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Perpetuum mobile in El Hierro

What was once regarded as technically impossible and the stuff of science fiction is slowly becoming reality.  The westernmost of the Canary Islands considered the end of the known world  until the voyage of Christopher Columbus proved otherwise is now set to become the first in the world to have all its energy needs covered from renewable sources.  La Gorona del Viento (translated roughly as the Wind Stable) is an ingenious project to harness the locally constant winds to operate a hydro-electric station that will provide a permanent supply of energy to the 7,000 inhabitants of the island.

Barbados 50 Odyssey boats in Puerto de la Estaca

Barbados 50 Odyssey boats in Puerto de la Estaca

Participants in the first fleet of the Barbados 50 Odyssey were treated by the Tourism Board of El Hierro to a tour of the island that included a visit to the various sites of the Gorona del Viento project.

Alberto Castañeda of Gorona del Viento describing the workings of this ambitious project

Alberto Castañeda of Gorona del Viento describing the workings of this ambitious project

Pascal translating Alberto's comments over the noise of the water turbine.

Pascal translating Alberto’s comments over the noise of the water turbine.

The turbine hall

The turbine hall

The basic concept of the project is to use the prevailing NE winds to produce electricity with five wind turbines (maximum capacity 11.1 MW) either to supply electricity directly for domestic use (estimated at 7.4 MW per day) or to drive a bank of pumps that will lift the water from a lower reservoir 700 metres to the higher reservoir.

 

Graphic rendition of the Gorona del Viento project

Graphic rendition of the Gorona del Viento project

When either the wind turbines do not produce enough electricity or the consumption is too high, the difference is made up by producing electricity with a bank of water turbines.  On three separate occasions this year, the project covered all island’s needs, once for as long as 72 hours.

Young visitors at the lower reservoir with the turbine hall in the background

Young visitors at the lower reservoir with the turbine hall in the background

The rest of the tour was taken  up by stopping at some of El Hierro’s main attractions.

 

View from the top

View from the top

Barbados 50 kids happy to stretch their legs ahead of the passage to the Cape Verde Islands

Barbados 50 kids happy to stretch their legs ahead of the passage to the Cape Verde Islands

The distinctive Dragon tree, endemic to the Canaries

The distinctive Dragon tree, endemic to the Canaries

The unanimous decision among the sailors, who perhaps more than anyone else, are well aware of the utmost importance of using renewable sources of energy, was that El Hierro’s project is a remarkable model for the rest of the world… to be hopefully repeated soon on a much larger scale.

 

Another El Herro first- free wifi even in this remote spot of the island. Marinas in other parts of the world- take note!

Another El Hierro first- free wifi even in this remote spot of the island. Marinas in other parts of the world- take note!

El Hierro's Puerto de la Estaca soon to host Europe's westernmost marina

El Hierro’s Puerto de la Estaca soon to host Europe’s westernmost marina

 

 

 

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