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Island of 11,000 souls test drives climate gods' 100 percent renewable energy plan

Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, December 27, 2023

If ending fossil fuels is indeed the key to saving planet Earth, you would think there would be some kind of trial run to make sure it is a viable option.

Actually, there is.

The climate crowd just doesn't like to talk about it.

In 2015, the island of El Hierro, the second-smallest and farthest-south and -west of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, set out to be 100 percent powered by wind and hydroelectric pumped storage.

On its website, El Hierro, which has a population of about 11,000, posts data about its energy grid.

Writing for Just the News on Dec. 25, Kevin Killough broke down the data:

"There are 8,760 hours in a year, and 8,784 in a leap year. In 2020, a leap year, the island was powered 100% with wind and pumped storage for 1,293 hours out of the year. That comes out to 14.7% of the island's energy needs. In 2021, it managed to hit 1,328 hours, and in 2022, it dropped down to 1,008, meaning that only 11.5% of the island's energy needs were met by 'green' power."

The website hasn't posted data yet for 2023.

For the other hours of the year, the island’s electricity supply was generated in part by diesel-powered generators.

Pumped storage is a form of hydroelectric power that uses elevation to store water. It consists of two reservoirs, one placed considerably higher than the other. During periods of surplus energy production, (when more electricity is produced than being consumed) the extra power is used to power pumps to lift water from the lower reservoir to the higher one. When the energy is needed, the water is drained into the lower pool and the flow of water turns generators, just like in a hydroelectric dam.

Francis Menton has proposed on his “Manhattan Contrarian” blog that it might be a good idea to demonstrate with a pilot project somewhere on Earth that switching to 100 percent renewables will actually work.

“Before embarking on ‘net zero’ for a billion people, how about trying it out in a place with, say, 10,000, or 50,000, or 100,000 people – see if it can actually work and how much it will cost?” Menton wrote. In other words, he explained, take a small city and power its electricity grid entirely on wind, solar and energy storage for a full year without any kind of baseload backup from fossil fuels.

“I’ve been banging that drum for a long time. It's incredible to me that people think you're going to convert the world to an entirely new energy system, and nobody has ever done a demonstration project to show that it can be done. So we're gonna use 8 billion people as the guinea pig,” Menton told Just The News.

The closest Menton could find to such a project is El Hierro.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) claims that Uruguay runs 98% on renewable energy, and the New York Times Magazine did a glowing write-up last year, holding the country up as a leader in the energy transition.

Killough noted:
Contradicting the WEF and Times' endorsements, a group of consultants in the energy sector published on the Substack newsletter “Doomberg” an analysis of the country’s energy mix and noted that nearly 20% of its power comes from fossil fuels. Uruguay also gets 37% of its electricity from hydroelectric dams. Hydroelectric is a power source that doesn’t produce carbon dioxide emissions, but it requires geology with steep elevation drops, limiting its use in many places in the world. Uruguay has some of the highest per-capita levels of electricity generated from hydroelectric in the world.
Hydroelectric projects face stiff opposition from environmentalists in the West. The Biden administration is currently considering removing four dams on the Snake River in Idaho due to their alleged impacts on salmon populations.

Menton noted that, if there were a successful 100 percent renewable energy demonstration project powering an electricity grid entirely with wind, solar and energy storage, it would still provide only one-fifth of the total energy that people consume.

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