5 Islands Leading the Charge Toward 100% Renewable Energy

Originally posted on EcoWatch

Hawaii made waves earlier this year with the announcement that it plans to transition its electric grid to 100 percent renewables by 2045. This is the most aggressive target in the U.S. and it means that the state will serve as a testbed for bringing large amounts of variable renewables onto the grid. It should be watched closely by grid managers everywhere.

It’s no coincidence that Hawaii leads the nation in its renewable ambitions. As a group of islands, Hawaii faces unique energy challenges and it has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Energy to analyze the potential of solar energy and examine the challenges of integrating a variety of renewables into its energy mix.

From one perspective, an island seems like a hard place to use variable renewable energy like wind and solar. Island grids are usually isolated, so they can’t rely on power from the mainland grid when there’s no sun or wind. There are some exceptions, like the Danish island of Samso. Island grids generally have to pay more attention to backup generation and energy storage than mainland grids, raising the overall costs of renewables.

On the other hand, most islands rely on fuel imports to run their grid. These shipments of diesel, oil or natural gas are very expensive and anything that can reduce or eliminate them can mean big savings. It also means less reliance on imports, increasing energy security. So shifting to fuel-free renewables like solar and wind saves money on this side of the ledger.

How do these two factors balance out in practice? The answer is clear in the growing number of island communities around the world that are moving quickly to adopt renewables.

Read the full article on EcoWatch