Engerati’s Week In Smart Energy – The Island Energy Challenge

Published: Mon 22 Feb 2016
A blog entry by Jonathan Spencer Jones

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Jonathan Spencer Jones
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Islands and other remote locations present specific challenges for electrification, due not only to their remoteness but also to often having a low population density and inhospitable terrain. The fast dropping prices of renewables and storage along with their scalability and enabling network technologies make these resources ideal both for basic electrification and as replacement for costly diesel generation. In an interview with Itron’s Paul Nelsen we investigate some of the considerations, such as the business case, the technologies that are available and other issues that are needed in a project implementation. [The Island Energy Challenge]

An example of an island utility that is forging ahead with its renewables activities is the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii. The coop is working towards the target of using renewable resources to generate 50% of Kauai’s power by 2023 and while the average in the current year is expected to be 37%, during January on four occasions – the longest of 61 minutes – over 90% renewable power supply was achieved. [Kauai Island Utility Cooperative On Track for Renewables Goal of 50% by 2022] The experience gained during these and the undoubted future occasions when similar levels will be reached will be invaluable, not only for KAIU itself but also other utilities, in managing such high levels of renewables.

New disruptions are hitting the energy sector almost daily as agile new entrants challenge the utility status quo. The latest is the sonnenCommunity concept which links homeowners with solar and storage into a virtual grid that allows members to trade with each other and sell excess power into the community. The concept was launched in sonnen’s home market in Germany last year and the company is now eyeing the US market. [Community Energy Trading-A Potential Challenge for Utilities]

Energy efficiency will play a critical role in limiting world energy demand growth to one-third by 2040, while the global economy grows by 150%. Since energy savings have the potential to increase employment, lower operating costs across industries, strengthen energy security and reduce carbon emissions, it comes as no surprise that global energy efficiency investment will reach the US$5.8 trillion mark by the year 2030, with an annual energy efficiency investment of US$385 billion, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This surge in energy efficiency investment will be based mostly around applications in buildings, manufacturing and transportation. [Energy Efficiency-An Energy Source Not To Be Underestimated]

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