310,000 estimated to have participated in New York climate change march!

310,000 figure has now been recalculated at 400,000. Regardless, depending on what news service you follow there were between 100,000 and 400,000 people at the climate change march in New York. We even managed a modest crowd in St Stephens Green to mark the occasion of the meeting of the worlds leaders. 200 countries will attend and the message they are getting on their emission reduction programs is clear- Not enough and too slowly!

 

 

By the way, that petition I asked you to sign was delivered to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AVAAZ - Avaaz Executive Director Ricken Patel delivers a petition to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. The petition, signed by 2 million people, calls for 100% clean energy worldwide ahead of this week's UN Climate Summit in New York. (Ed Rieker/AP Images for Avaaz)

It contained 2.1 million signatures.

Thanks

Richard

 

More information on the IPCC report mentioned in my previous blogs

I have been asked for a little extra background information on the recently leaked IPCC report.

Here is a smattering of what is being reported about this important document-


Climate scientist drops the F-bomb (Salon)
http://www.salon.com/2014/08/06/climate_scientist_drops_the_f_bomb_after_startling_arctic_discovery/

EU to beat 2020 climate targets, split over 2030 ones (Reuters)
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/14/eu-carbon-idUKL6N0O06BG20140514 

The most influential climate change paper today remains unknown to most people (Inside Climate News)
http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140213/climate-change-science-carbon-budget-nature-global-warming-2-degrees-bill-mckibben-fossil-fuels-keystone-xl-oil?page=show

Floods, storms and searing heat for 2050 as TV forecasters imagine climate change (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/01/us-climatechange-idUSKBN0GW2OT20140901

IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable (The Guardian)
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/13/averting-climate-change-catastrophe-is-affordable-says-ipcc-report-un 

Renewable energy capacity grows at fastest ever pace (The Guardian)
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/28/renewable-energy-capacity-grows-fastest-ever-pace 

Solar price parity arrives early (MSN)
http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post.aspx?post=0040731b-4941-432a-b1bd-3b0a04149068

Political Straightjackets

By George Monbiot, The Guardian’s website, 11th September 2014

If the ozone hole had been discovered ten years later, governments are likely to have done nothing.

In The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins, a comedy made in 1971, Spike Milligan portrays Sloth as a tramp trying to get through a farm gate. This simple task is rendered almost impossible by the fact that he can’t be bothered to take his hands out of his pockets and open the latch. He tries everything: getting over it, under it, through it, hurling himself at it, risking mortal injury, expending far more energy and effort than the obvious solution would require.

This is how environmental diplomacy works. Governments gather to discuss an urgent problem and propose everything except the obvious solution – legislation. The last thing our self-hating states will contemplate is what they are empowered to do: govern. They will launch endless talks and commissions, devise elaborate market mechanisms, even offer massive subsidies to encourage better behaviour, rather than simply say “we’re stopping this”.

This is what’s happening with manmade climate change. The obvious solution, in fact the only real and lasting solution, is to decide that most fossil fuel reserves will be left in the ground, while alternative energy sources are rapidly developed to fill the gap. Everything else is talk. But not only will governments not contemplate this step, they won’t even discuss it. They would rather risk mortal injury than open the gate.

The same applies to biodiversity, fisheries, neonicotinoid pesticides and a host of other issues affecting the living planet: negotiators have tried to work their way under, over and through the gate, while ensuring that the barrier remains in place.

It wasn’t always like this. There was a time when they took their hands out of their pockets.

This week the UN revealed that the ozone layer is recovering so fast that, across most of the planet, it will be more or less mended by the middle of the century. Ozone is the atmospheric chemical that blocks ultraviolet-B radiation, protecting us from skin cancer and from damage to our eyes and immune systems, and protecting plants from destruction. It’s coming back, and this is a great advertisement for active government.

Like manmade global warming, the problem was forecast before it was observed. In the case of global warming, Svante Arrhenius predicted in 1896 that the “carbonic acid” (carbon dioxide) produced by burning fossil fuels was sufficient to raise the global temperature. In 1974, before any noticeable issues had arisen, the chemists Frank Rowland and Mario Molina predicted that the breakdown of chlorofluorocarbons – chemicals used for refrigeration and as aerosol propellants – in the stratosphere would destroy atmospheric ozone. Eleven years later, ozone depletion near the South Pole was detected by the British Antarctic Survey.

Had governments not acted, the UN estimates,

“atmospheric levels of ozone depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050.”

The action governments took was direct and uncomplicated: ozone-depleting chemicals would be banned. The Montreal Protocol came into force in 1989, and within seven years use of the most dangerous substances had been more or less eliminated. Every member of the United Nations has ratified the treaty.

This was despite a sustained campaign of lobbying and denial by the chemicals industry – led by Dupont – which bears strong similarities to the campaign by fossil fuel companies to prevent action on climate change.

The Montreal Protocol is one of those victories that allows us to forget. We are not wired to recognise an absence; we don’t spend our days celebrating the eradication of smallpox, or the fact that diphtheria no longer ravages our cities. But were the protocol not in force, scarcely a day would pass when the problem did not impinge on our consciousness. The UN maintains that the protocol

“will have prevented 2 million cases of skin cancer annually by 2030″.

There are still issues to resolve. Earlier this year, scientists detected four new ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere, which are likely to be either industrial feedstocks or black market products. There will always be cheats and freeloaders, but the treaty can keep evolving to address new threats.

The Montreal Protocol has famously done more to prevent global warming (which was not its purpose) than the Kyoto Protocol, which was designed to prevent it. This is because some of the chemicals the ozone treaty bans are also powerful greenhouse gases.

So what’s the difference? Why is the Montreal Protocol effective while the Kyoto Protocol and subsequent efforts to prevent climate breakdown are not?

Part of the answer must be that the fossil fuel industry is much bigger than the halogenated hydrocarbon industry, and its lobbying power much greater. Retiring fossil fuel is technically just as feasible as replacing ozone-depleting chemicals, given the wide range of technologies for generating useful energy, but politically much tougher.

But I don’t think that’s the only factor. When the Montreal Protocol was negotiated, during the mid-1980s, the notion that governments could intervene in the market was under sustained assault, but not yet conquered. Even Margaret Thatcher, while speaking the language of market fundamentalism, was dirigiste by comparison to her successors: enough at any rate to be a staunch supporter of the Montreal Protocol. It is almost impossible to imagine David Cameron championing such a measure. For that matter, given the current state of Congress, it’s more or less impossible to see Barack Obama doing it either.

By the mid-1990s, the doctrine of market fundamentalism – also known as neoliberalism – had almost all governments by the throat. Any politicians who tried to protect the weak from the powerful or the natural world from industrial destruction were punished by the corporate media or the markets.

This extreme political doctrine – that governments must cease to govern – has made direct, uncomplicated action almost unthinkable. Just as the extent of humankind’s greatest crisis – climate breakdown – became clear, governments willing to address it were everywhere being disciplined or purged.

Since then, this doctrine has caused financial crises and economic collapse, the destruction of livelihoods, mountainous debt, insecurity and the devastation of the living planet. It has, as Thomas Piketty demonstrates, replaced enterprise with patrimonial capitalism: neoliberal economies rapidly become dominated by rent and inherited wealth, in which social mobility stalls. But despite these evident failures, despite the fact that the claims of market fundamentalism have been disproven as dramatically as those of state communism, somehow this zombie ideology staggers on. Were the ozone hole to have been discovered today, governments would have announced talks about talks about talks, and we would still be discussing whether something should be done as our skin turned to crackling.

Tackling any environmental crisis, especially climate breakdown, requires a resumption of political courage: the courage just to open the sodding gate.

http://www.monbiot.com

People’s Climate March, Sunday 21.9.2014 1:00 pm, St Stephens Green

Sunday 21.9.2014 1:00 pm

St Stephens Green, Dublin

On Sunday, September 21st, just days before a landmark climate summit at the UN, people around the world are taking part in a People’s Climate March. World leaders including the Irish government don’t believe enough of us care about climate change, that’s why they’re still not yet rising to the challenge of saving our planet. But on September 21, we have an unprecedented chance to prove them wrong, with the largest climate mobilisation in history.

Kingston Renewable Energy appeals to everyone to show up and help send a clear message- Government inactivity, lack of policy and effective measures is just not good enough!

Climate Breakdown, How governments bemoan the problem but keep stoking the fires.

 

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 28th September 2013

Already, a thousand blogs and columns insist that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new report is a rabid concoction of scare stories whose purpose is to destroy the global economy. But it is, in reality, highly conservative.

Reaching agreement among hundreds of authors and reviewers ensures that only the statements which are hardest to dispute are allowed to pass. Even when the scientists have agreed, the report must be tempered in another forge, as politicians question anything they find disagreeable: the new report received 1855 comments from 32 governments(1), and the arguments raged through the night before its launch(2).

In other words, it’s perhaps the biggest and most rigorous process of peer review conducted in any scientific field, at any point in human history.

There are no radical departures in this report from the previous assessment, published in 2007; just a great deal more evidence demonstrating the extent of global temperature rises, the melting of ice sheets and sea ice, the retreat of the glaciers, the rising and acidification of the oceans and the changes in weather patterns(3). The message is both familiar and shattering: “it’s as bad as we thought it was.”

What the report describes, in its dry, meticulous language, is the collapse of the benign climate in which humans have prospered, and the loss of the conditions upon which many other lifeforms depend. Climate change and global warming are inadequate terms for what it reveals. The story it tells is of climate breakdown. This is, or so it seems, a catastrophe we are capable of foreseeing but incapable of imagining. It’s a catastrophe we are singularly ill-equipped to prevent.

The IPCC’s reports attract denial in all its forms: from a quiet turning away – the response of most people – to shrill disavowal. Despite –  or perhaps because of – their rigours, the IPCC’s reports attract a magnificent collection of conspiracy theories: the panel is trying to tax us back to the stone age or establish a Nazi/Communist dictatorship in which we are herded into camps and forced to crochet our own bicycles. (And they call the scientists scaremongers …).

In the Mail, the Telegraph and the dusty basements of the internet, today’s report (or a draft leaked a few weeks ago) has been trawled for any uncertainties or refinements that could be used to discredit the process(4,5). The panel reports that on every continent except Antarctica, manmade warming is likely to have made a substantial contribution to the surface temperature(6). So those who feel threatened by the evidence ignore the other continents and concentrate on Antarctica, as proof that climate change caused by fossil fuels can’t be happening.

They make great play of the IPCC’s acknowledgement that there has been a “reduction in surface warming trend over the period 1998–2012”(7), but somehow ignore the fact that the past decade is still the warmest in the instrumental record. They manage to overlook the panel’s conclusion that this slowing of the trend is likely to have been caused by volcanic eruptions, fluctuations in solar radiation and natural variability in the planetary cycle. Were it not for manmade global warming, these factors could have made the world significantly cooler over this period(8). That there has been a slight increase in temperature despite them shows the extraordinary power of the human contribution.

But denial is only part of the problem. More significant is the behaviour of powerful people who claim to accept the evidence but keep stoking the fires. This week the former Irish president Mary Robinson added her voice to a call that some of us have been making for years: the only effective means of preventing climate breakdown is to leave fossil fuels in the ground(9,10). Press any minister on this matter in private and, in one way or another, they will concede the point. Yet no government will act on it.

As if to mark the publication of the new report, the department for business, innovation and skills has now plastered a giant poster across its groundfloor windows: “UK oil and gas: Energising Britain. £13.5bn is being invested in recovering UK oil and gas this year, more than any other industrial sector.” The message couldn’t have been clearer if it had said “up yours.”

This is an example of the way in which all governments collaborate in the disaster they publicly bemoan. They claim to accept the science and to support the intergovernmental panel. They sagely agree with the need to do something to avert the catastrophe it foresees, while promoting the industries that cause it.

It doesn’t matter how many windmills or solar panels or nuclear plants you build if you are not simultaneously retiring fossil fuel production. We need a global programme whose purpose is to leave most coal and oil and gas reserves in the ground, while developing new sources of power and reducing the amazing amount of energy we waste.

But, far from doing so, governments everywhere are still seeking to squeeze every drop out of their own reserves, while trying to secure access to other people’s. As more accessible reservoirs are emptied, energy companies exploit the remotest parts of the planet, bribing and bullying governments to allow them to break open unexploited places: from the deep ocean to the melting Arctic. And the governments who let them do it weep sticky black tears over the state of the planet.

http://www.monbiot.com

References:

1. http://www.climatechange2013.org/ipcc-process/

2. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/26/ipcc-climate-report-slow-progress

3. http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5-SPM_Approved27Sep2013.pdf

4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2420783/Worlds-climate-scientists-confess-Global-warming-just-QUARTER-thought–computers-got-effects-greenhouse-gases-wrong.html

5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10310712/Top-climate-scientists-admit-global-warming-forecasts-were-wrong.html

6. Page 13, Summary for Policy Makers. http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5-SPM_Approved27Sep2013.pdf

7. Page 10.

8. http://www.climatecodered.org/2013/09/is-global-warming-in-hiatus-not-if-you.html

9. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/23/fossil-fuel-reserves-left-in-ground

10. http://www.monbiot.com/2007/12/11/rigged/

5 Terrifying Facts From the Leaked UN Climate Report

How many synonyms for “grim” can I pack into one article? I had to consult the thesaurus: ghastly, horrid, awful, shocking, grisly, gruesome.

This week, a big report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was leaked before publication, and it confirmed, yet again, the grim—dire, frightful—reality the we face if we don’t slash our global greenhouse gas emissions, and slash them fast.

This “Synthesis Report,” to be released in November following a UN conference in Copenhagen, is still subject to revision. It is intended to summarize three previous UN climate publications and to “provide an integrated view” to the world’s governments of the risks they face from runaway carbon pollution, along with possible policy solutions.

As expected, the document contains a lot of what had already been reported after the three underpinning reports were released at global summits over the past year. It’s a long list of problems: sea level rise resulting in coastal flooding, crippling heat waves and multidecade droughts, torrential downpours, widespread food shortages, species extinction, pest outbreaks, economic damage, and exacerbated civil conflicts and poverty.

But in general, the 127-page leaked report provides starker language than the previous three, framing the crisis as a series of “irreversible” ecological and economic catastrophes that will occur if swift action is not taken.

Here are five particularly grim—depressing, distressing, upsetting, worrying, unpleasant—takeaways from the report.

1. Our efforts to combat climate change have been grossly inadequate.
The report says that anthropogenic (man-made) greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase from 1970 to 2010, at a pace that ramped up especially quickly between 2000 and 2010. That’s despite some regional action that has sought to limit emissions, including carbon-pricing schemes in Europe. We haven’t done enough, the United Nations says, and we’re already seeing the effects of inaction. “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history,” the report says. “The climate changes that have already occurred have had widespread and consequential impacts on human and natural systems.”

2. Keeping global warming below the internationally agreed upon 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (above preindustrial levels) is going to be very hard.
To keep warming below this limit, our emissions need to be slashed dramatically. But at current rates, we’ll pump enough greenhouse gas into the atmosphere to sail past that critical level within the next 20 to 30 years, according to the report. We need to emit half as much greenhouse gas for the remainder of this century as we’ve already emitted over the past 250 years. Put simply, that’s going to be difficult—especially when you consider the fact that global emissions are growing, not declining, every year. The report says that to keep temperature increases to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, deep emissions cuts of between 40 and 70 percent are needed between 2010 and 2050, with emissions “falling towards zero or below” by 2100.

3. We’ll probably see nearly ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean before mid-century.
The report says that in every warming scenario it the scientists considered, we should expect to see year-round reductions in Arctic sea ice. By 2050, that will likely result in strings of years in which there is the near absence of sea ice in the summer, following a well-established trend. And then there’s Greenland, where glaciers have been retreating since the 1960s—increasingly so after 1993—because of man-made global warming. The report says we may already be facing a situation in which Greenland’s ice sheet will vanish over the next millennium, contributing up to 23 feet of sea level rise.

4. Dangerous sea level rise will very likely impact 70 percent of the world’s coastlines by the end of the century.
The report finds that by 2100, the devastating effects of sea level rise—including flooding, infrastructure damage, and coastal erosion—will impact the vast majority of the world’s coastlines. That’s not good: Half the world’s population lives within 37 miles of the sea, and three-quarters of all large cities are located on the coast, according to the United Nations. The sea has already risen significantly: From 1901 to 2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.62 feet.

5. Even if we act now, there’s a real risk of “abrupt and irreversible” changes.
The carbon released by burning fossil fuels will stay in the atmosphere and the seas for centuries to come, the report says, even if we completely stop emitting CO2 as soon as possible. That means it’s virtually certain that global mean sea level rise will continue for many centuries beyond 2100. Without strategies to reduce emissions, the world will see 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming above preindustrial temperatures by the end of the century, condemning us to “substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, [and] consequential constraints on common human activities.”

What’s more, the report indicates that without action, the effects of climate change could be irreversible: “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

Grim, indeed.

 

By James West

Hydroelectric power returns to England’s Cragside estate, an aspiration for An Taisce?

 

Cragside Estate

The world’s first home to be lit by hydroelectricity is once again being powered by water following the installation of a new Archimedes screw turbine at England’s Cragside estate.

Lord William Armstrong first begin using water from the estate’s five lakes to generate power in late 1870s, bringing Cragside’s story full-circle, according to the National Trust, which has curated the site since 1977.

“Lord Armstrong was an exceptional man with an ingenious mind, and the prospect of bringing his vision for Cragside into the 21st Century is a dream come true,” property manager Andrew Sawyer said. “Hydroelectricity is the world’s most widely used form of renewable energy, so we are looking forward to sharing this very special part of its heritage.”

Water for the new Archimedes screw will be drawn from Tumbleton Lake, which is the lowest of the estate’s reservoirs. The water will turn a17-meter long galvanized turbine that will produce about 12 kW of energy, or, the National Trust said, enough to power all of Cragside’s 350 light bulbs over the course of a year.

The organization said it chose an Archimedes screw design not only for its ability to generate power at a low speed, but for its ability to allow for safe fish passage.

“The best thing about the screw is that it’s visible, and we hope this will add to people’s understanding of why Cragside is so special,” said Sarah Pemberton, National Trust Head of Conservation for Yorkshire and the North East. “It not only makes economic sense, but adds so much depth to the story this special house has to tell.”

The Cragside project is part of the National Trust’s initiative to power each of its 43 historic properties with renewable energy.

Michael Harris

University hopes to use satellites to aid micro hydro development

Satellite

Researchers from the University of Leicester and High Efficiency Heating UK Ltd. are hoping to use satellite data as a means of simplifying the process of locating sites for micro hydro projects.

The partners were awarded a US$201,550 grant from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board for work on the 10-month project, which is being called ISMORTASED, or “Identification of Sites for Micro-Hydropower On Rivers Through Applied Satellite and Environmental Data”.

The university will use its expertise in geographical information systems (GIS) to develop a method designed to cut costs in identifying potential small hydropower sites.

“Currently, to determine the viability of a stretch of river or stream for micro hydro power, the process is expensive and complex,” High Efficiency Heating (HEH) managing director Andy Baxter said. “At present, there’s a significant fee to pay to determine whether a particular stretch of river will yield hydropower — and this is before socioeconomic factors and due processes such as planning applications are taken into account.”

Work on the GIS will be coordinated by the university’s Department of Geography, which said it will develop a prototype system to combine as many as two dozen data sets to evaluate sites.

“We hope that the widespread proliferation of run-of-river micro hydropower will help towards a stable, green, constant and predictable supply of power in the next few years,” Baxter said. “We have to combine electricity storage with a reliable and constant energy source. Hydropower is half of that solution.”

Lessons learned from the project could have global implications, according to Dr. Kevin Tansey of the university’s geography department.

“The current and growing concerns of climate and energy make this project of interest both nationally and internationally,” Tansey said. “The University of Leicester’s involvement with commercial organizations to develop tools that are applicable at the local scale globally is exciting and timely.”

 

Michael Harris

Elon Musk (Tesla) we love you!

Dear readers,

I am not so naive I think this announcement is as philanthropic as it first seems. Tesla are constructing the worlds biggest battery factory and open-sourcing their patents allows other manufacturers to develop EVs using their designs which would lead to orders for Tesla batteries.

However, by and large everyone is a winner with this patent release and I cant but smile at his reasons for doing so, a very big smile!

We love you Elon Musk!

Richard Kingston

All Our Patent Are Belong To You

By Elon Musk, CEO
TAGS: CUSTOMERS / MODEL S /

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.

At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

Elon Musk, Tesla

Spanish island to be fully powered by wind, water. Is this a map for Aran?

Wind turbines are pictured near the upper reservoir of the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File Wind turbines are pictured near the upper reservoir of the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

The smallest and least known of Spain’s Canary Islands, El Hierro, is making a splash by becoming the first island in the world fully energy self-sufficient through combined water and wind power.

A wind farm opening at the end of June will turn into electricity the gusts that rake the steep cliffs and green mountains of the volcanic island off the Atlantic coast of Africa.

Its five turbines installed at the northeastern tip of El Hierro near the capital Valverde will have a total output of 11.5 megawatts — more than enough power to meet the demand of the island’s roughly 10,000 residents and its energy-hungry water desalination plants.

Although other islands around the world are powered by solar or wind energy, experts say El Hierro is the first to secure a constant supply of electricity by combining wind and water power and with no connection to any outside electricity network.

The lower reservoir and hydropower station at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File The lower reservoir and hydropower station at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Surplus power from the wind turbines will be used to pump fresh water from a reservoir near the harbour to a larger one at volcanic crater located about 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level.

When there is little or no wind, the water will be channelled down to the lower reservoir through turbines to generate electricity in turn.

“This system guarantees us a supply of electricity,” said the director of the Gorona del Viento wind power plant, Juan Manuel Quintero who is supervising final tests before the plant starts functioning in a few weeks.

The plant will account for 50 percent of the island’s electricity demand when it is officially inaugurated at the end of June, a figure that will rise to 100 percent over the following months.

The scheme will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 18,700 tonnes per year and eliminate the island’s annual consumption of 40,000 barrels of oil.

Emplyees work in the pump room at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File Emplyees work in the pump room at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

El Hierro will maintain its fuel oil power station as a back up, just in case.

- ‘World pioneer’ -

The island is cited as a pioneering project by IRENA, the international organisation for renewable energy, and other experts such as Alain Gioda, a climate historian at France IRD science research institute.

“The true novelty of El Hierro is that technicians have managed, without being connected to any national network, to guarantee a stable production of electricity, that comes 100 percent from renewable energy, overcoming the intermittent nature of the wind,” he said.

El Hierro’s wind power plant has sparked interest from other islands seeking to follow its example.

A Turbogenerator set (L) and a lubrication (blue) at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File A Turbogenerator set (L) and a lubrication (blue) at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Officials from Aruba, Hawaii, Samso in Denmark, Oki in Japan, and Indonesia have all shown interest.

“It is a project which is considered at the world level as a pioneer and it is one of the most important in the production of renewable energy,” said the president of island’s local council, Alpidio Armas.

“El Hierro can be a sort of laboratory,” he added, providing an example to other islands around the world which are home to around 600 million people.

El Hierro, the westernmost of Spain’s Canary Islands, has also been invited to present its project at several international conferences, including in Malta and South Korea.

- Electric vehicles -

A recharging point for electric vehicles at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File A recharging point for electric vehicles at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

El Hierro wants to extend its environmental credentials even further by ensuring that by 2020 all of its 6,000 vehicles are run on electricity thanks to an agreement with the Renault-Nissan alliance.

The wind power plant cost 80 million euros ($110 million) to build.

The island authorities own 60 percent of the plant, with 30 percent held by Spanish energy company Endesa — a subsidiary of Italian group Enel — and 10 percent by a local technology institute.

“We wanted to be the owners of the majority of the plant. That means that the profits as well as the possible losses, that is the destiny of Gorona del Viento, is the responsibility of the residents of the island,” said Armas.

Revenues from the plant will boost the island’s budget by about one to three million euros per year, he said.

“These are revenues that can go to the local residents, to subsidise water prices, infrastructure, social policies,” he said.

El Hierro, designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve with 60 percent of its territory of 278 square kilometres (107 square miles) protected to preserve its natural diversity, also hopes its green energy drive will draw visitors interested in nature and science.

“We cannot turn down the benefits that tourism brings, but we don’t want mass tourism,” said Armas.