The Canary Islands could completely and cost-effectively switch to renewables by 2050, a study finds

Canary Islands could be free from fossil fuels by 2050

The Canary Islands could be 100 per cent powered by renewable resources by the middle of the century, a German study has predicted. 

Mostly relying on energy from oil, the Spanish archipelago west off the coast of North Africa has favourable conditions for deployment of various renewable energy resources including solar, wind and marine power.

According to a study by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the islands could thus switch to clean energy sources rather cost-effectively.

Moreover, the Canarians could do so without having to switch to gas during the transition from oil.

The DLR estimates an investment of €20bn (£15bn), spread over the next 35 years would be needed, covering installations of wind turbines and photovoltaics. As less and eventually no fossil fuels will be needed, this investment would be offset by savings of €42bn, almost double the amount of the investment.

"According to our calculations, the money saved from not having to purchase oil would cover the entire investment and also allow the construction of additional supporting infrastructure, such as energy storage systems and power networks," said DLR researcher Sonja Simon.

The researchers actually expect that energy consumption could drop by up to 37 per cent as more efficient technologies will be developed and deployed.

The calculation also revealed that the price for a kilowatt hour could drop to between 17 and 20 cents by 2050.

The team ran another scenario which was that the islands continue using fossil fuels. In that case, the price for kilowatt hour would be higher - 23 cents.

The study suggests that solar thermal, photovoltaic and wind power could supply up to 80 per cent of the Canary Islands' energy demand by 2050, with the remaining 20 per cent to be covered by geothermal, biomass and marine energy.

"It is important for us that a balanced combination is made, which is not too one-sided and dependent on a single technology,” said Simon. “We aim to use each technology according to its benefits and create redundancies, so that we can also offset specific uncertainties in the future technological developments."

The study also recommended encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles, as the rather small-sized islands don't allow residents to travel long distances – a major drawback of electric mobility.

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