The Wind-Pumped Hydro Power Station took centre stage this week at the XII Jornadas Españolas de Presas held in Gran Canaria, organised by the Spanish National Committee for Large Dams and the Island Council of El Hierro through the Island Water Council.
Santiago González, CEO of Gorona del Viento, explained the particularities of the renewable energy supply system on the island of El Meridiano, in a keynote speech at the conference dedicated to hydroelectric storage as a viable path to energy transition. The choice of this route on El Hierro has resulted in percentages of more than 80% coverage of monthly demand with clean sources, for example, last July.
During the meeting, González’s participation was not the only reference to the Gorona del Viento plant, as experts such as Juan Bola, Director of Non-Peninsular Systems Operations at Red Eléctrica de España, and Gonzalo Piernavieja, from the Canary Islands Institute of Technology, also mentioned the system on El Hierro as a proven example of the viability of hydro storage for the greater penetration of renewables on islands.
The variability of clean sources such as wind and sun make it difficult to manage them from a technical point of view in order to maintain frequency stability in unconnected territories, as is the case of El Hierro. Since the plant was inaugurated, Gorona del Viento has been able to supply almost 60% of the annual electricity demand, a worldwide milestone. “We are actors and accomplices in the transition and this entails an intrinsic commitment to communicate, expose, explain, from the background that gave rise to this project, to what is happening now and what options we are studying to further curb diesel consumption on the island”, explained the CEO after his speech in Gran Canaria.
It is the first forum of this magnitude to be held on the islands since the pandemic, with more than 250 attendees. In Santiago González’s extensive talk, there was time to talk about the involvement of the public in the change, as “it is necessary to work with consumption to achieve the objectives pursued in the generation”, i.e. to slow down the growth in demand and even reduce it, as one of the main aspects of energy efficiency. In El Hierro, the councillor recalled that the benefits that the Council obtains from its participation in Gorona del Viento are what give rise to aid for the implementation of self-consumption systems or the purchase of electric vehicles, among others.
The actions must be diversified, as must the energy sources, which is why Gorona del Viento’s Master Plan is now leading the company to study the implementation of photovoltaics. Another intermittent source that must have storage systems and, “if we are talking about large powers with the intention of injecting them into an isolated electricity grid, it will not be possible if it is not linked to the pumped storage systems mentioned here, which are nothing more than a battery of energy at our disposal so that, in the event of any instability caused by intermittent sources, we have the energy available to guarantee frequency stability”, said the councillor.
At the same time, Gorona del Viento El Hierro was also present this week at Greencities S-Moving, a forum on smart and green cities, as well as sustainable mobility, held in Málaga.
There, staff from the El Hierro company held various meetings with public and private entities, such as the Provincial Council of Badajoz, responding to their interest in the business composition of Gorona del Viento, mostly public, and how the benefits of unique projects can be directed to the public, while taking advantage of synergies with other socio-economic sectors. Precisely for this last reason, the participants also shared a table with the councillors of the Council of El Hierro present at Greencities, Montserrat Gutiérrez, from the Department of Safety and Emergencies, Environment, Waste and Recycling, and Melissa Armas, island councillor for Employment and Economic Development.
Some of the results of Gorona’s participation in Greencities included finding out about new developments aimed at optimising electric vehicles, and promoting new collaboration agreements with Spanish universities so that students can do work experience in El Hierro. The forum did not ignore the possibilities of the Wind-Pumped Hydro Power Station to promote the El Hierro brand for scientific tourism, or as a sustainability laboratory for companies and/or research centres.