The islands have the potential to install mills in 2,300 kilometers of their sea

Image of the potential areas to install mills in Gran Canarias. The extension is 220 square kilometers of its sea. / C7

The studies anticipate occupying 8% of the surface of the island's waters. The island of Fuerteventura is the one that presents the most opportunities, with 1,500 square kilometers. It is planned to install 15,000 megawatts: 2,500 for consumption by the islands and the rest for export

Silvia Fernandez

Offshore wind power has become a new El Dorado for the Canary archipelago.
The installation of windmills poses a new business niche for the islands that goes far beyond the generation of clean energy and the decarbonization of the archipelago.

The initial plans propose the implantation of mills in the sea to reduce the islands' consumption of polluting energies. The forecast is that by 2040 2,500 megawatts of power will have been installed and that offshore wind turbines will provide 20% of the islands' energy.

Nevertheless,
the wind power business in the Canary Islands is much more ambitiousand is aimed at the manufacture and export of clean energy to other countries, and above all, to the African continent, in different forms of storage such as ammonia or green hydrogen. Total
It is estimated that 15,000 megawatts could be installed in the waters of the Canary Islands, 2,500 for the islands' electricity consumption and 12,500 for export. Hence, the need to create assistance platforms for offshore wind power in the archipelago and in the island ports, which already have investment from European funds through the naval Perte, of almost 1,500 million euros. In these spaces the mills will be assembled and their maintenance will be carried out, developing a whole new industry.

A new economic sector is brewing and
there are many investors interested in getting a piece of this new cake. The trade winds, constant throughout the year, and the quality of the wind on the islands, without major peaks or hurricane seasons, make the islands an ideal place for offshore wind power.

The data handled by the Ministry of Ecological Transition of the Government of the Canary Islands and which coincide with that of the State, point to the fact that
In the Canary Islands, mills can be installed on a sea surface of almost 2,300 square kilometers. It is about 8% of the total extension of the waters of the islands. "It doesn't occupy everything, but it is the potential we have," says the Minister of Ecological Transition, José Antonio Valbuena.

This calculation has been made by the Ministry taking into account up to 20 limitations, with which it is intended to prevent offshore wind from colliding with social rejection by being able to affect areas of passage for cetaceans, or bird protection, the practice of activities marine sports, fishing activity, the operation of airports, the tourist image, communication cables, aquaculture concessions, distance from the coast (estimated at 8 kilometers)... By islands, it is
Fuerteventura the one with the greatest potential, with 1,500 square kilometers of sea surface to install mills. These will be floating but the cables run along the seabed, hence a certain depth is necessary, a bathymetry of between 750 and 1,000 meters. In addition, the slope cannot be greater than 15%.

The best conditions are found on the island of Majorera, which is why it will be the one with the largest area.

I would follow
Lanzarotewith 275 square kilometers;
Gran Canariawith 220;
La Gomerawith 170;
Tenerife, with 100; La Palma with 20 and
The ironwith 10.

The objective is to install up to 15,000 megawatts of power and although the number of mills is not officially mentioned, sources linked to the sector suggest that it could reach 9,000.

As noted above, 2,500 MW will be for own consumption and the remaining 12,500 will be exported to other countries, such as Africa, through different storage modalities that already exist and on which research is being carried out to improve them, as Valbuena points out. At the moment,
wind energy can be stored in the form of easily manageable liquid ammonia. "The goal is for the Canary Islands to become a manufacturer of clean energy, producing liquid ammonia that is easy to transport to Africa," says Valbuena.

The Government of the Canary Islands has sent its forecasts to the Ministry of Ecological Transition with a view to drawing up a
planning aimed at an orderly development of offshore wind power and avoiding the same mistake as with onshore wind farms.

According to Valbuena, it is estimated that the Ministry will have this planning (POEM) ready before the end of 2022. Once it is done and the installation areas of the mills are set, the tenders will be called in the first quarter of 2023. The first will be will be held in Gran Canaria, in an area in the southeast. To date there are more than 15 companies that have presented a project, including Naturgy and Equinor. The contest is expected to be "very close", since it is the first to be held in Spain and one of the first in the world in offshore wind power floating. From the time it starts up until the mills are in operation, a term of five years is foreseen.

The Canary Islands have to "run" in the supply systems

The Minister of Ecological Transition, José Antonio Valbuena, highlights the opportunities of the Canary Islands but warns of the need to "run" in storage systems, such as the Chira-Soria dam.

As he warns,
the islands have the risk of producing a lot of renewable energy and having to throw it away as they cannot introduce it into the system. It is already happening now.

This is what is called “limitations to operations”, which only occurs in the Canary Islands throughout the State and which causes clean energy to be discarded as it cannot be absorbed by the system.

As Valbuena explains, the fact that the contribution to the thermal system is with “old and very large” equipment prevents them from being easily “disconnected” from the network when there is good production from renewables. “They are equipment with 70 megawatts of power and it is difficult to have renewable power that is so high and maintained to cover that amount, with what is produced cleanly, it is lost,” indicates the counselor, who advocates a renewal of the equipment for others of less size. "One 60 megawatt is not the same as three 20 megawatts, which would make operations easier," he says.

In his words,
as long as it's not resolved this problem and there is storage the contribution of
renewable energies to the energy mix of the islands will not exceed 20% of the current annual average. At this point, he also points out the need to modify the compensation system by regulation.

With Chira Soria and similar facilities on other islands, the Government of the Canary Islands anticipates that in
By 2040, 90% of the energy produced in the Canary Islands will be renewable and only 10% comes from thermal. As for renewables: onshore wind power will contribute 3,900 megawatts; offshore wind, 2,500 and photovoltaic, 1,200 megawatts. In total: 8,700 MW.

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