In the Race to 100% Renewable Energy, Islands Will Win — With the Right Grid Improvements

Renewable Energy Islands Grid Improvements

Looked at individually, islands are often overlooked as unimportant players on the global economic stage. Smaller geographies, smaller communities, fewer resources, and often isolated locations mean less clout.

However, almost 10% of the world’s population — more than 740 million people, equal to the population of Europe — live on islands. And the unique conditions found on islands often make them global trailblazers and innovators.

Such is the case in the pursuit of developing renewable energy, where Iceland is a pioneer in geothermal energy and Scotland’s Orkney Islands are home to one of the world’s first large-scale tidal energy projects.

Many islands are seeking to reduce their dependence on importing greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels to generate electricity and instead tap into often abundant solar, wind, geothermal, and ocean energy. Thanks to their smaller size and populations, islands are running a shorter race to meet 100% of their energy demand with renewable energy supply. This, in turn, has made islands not only renewable energy leaders but also real-world learning labs for the larger mainland economies seeking to follow in their footsteps.

The article “A review of 100% renewable energy scenarios on islands,” published in the scientific journal WIREs Energy and Environment, examined nearly 100 journal articles published since 2004 on the topic, unearthing key trends in how islands are pursuing 100% renewables and what hurdles they’re encountering along the way.

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