Could renewable energy be a way out of crisis for Italy, Greece and Spain?

Could renewable energy be a way out of crisis for Italy, Greece and Spain?

New research from Greece, Italy, and Spain has shown renewable energy has huge potential in the Mediterranean region – and could also boost economies and create thousands of jobs. The studies look at a raft of possibilities to decarbonise while making savings on carbon credits or fuel imports.

Even the most infamously economically embattled country in Europe, Greece, would benefit hugely from moving to clean power. In Italy and Spain, island regions can provide good examples of utilising wind, wave, solar and geothermal capacity without compromising on power generation for tourism or desalination.

Italy. Small islands could go 100% renewable on wind, sun, wave and geothermal

Research shows that Italy’s small islands could also benefit from plans to decarbonise – diverting their expensive oil-based diesel generator systems away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy. Exalto Energy&Innovation’s plan also involves electrification of transport – for 100% renewable islands.

Concentrating on three of the bigger small islands, Favignana, Lampedusa and Pantelleria, the research takes the electricity demand of each and creates scenarios that show how renewable potential can be divided.

The models assume that household demand – that is already falling through efficiency savings – will continue to do so, but they also account for electrification of transport. In the examples solar, wind, wave, biogas, geothermal and storage systems are variously deployed where maximum gains can be made, depending on potential.

Pantelleria has the largest population at almost 8,000. It also has particularly good geothermal potential, which apart from providing energy also helps reduce the need for storage. A third of demand could be covered by wind power, 18% by solar power and 5% by wave power.

Lampedusa too has wind potential that could cover two thirds of demand. Solar would support 28% and wave power 7%. Smaller Favignana would be able to get to 100% renewable with 54% wind, 40% solar and 6% wave power.

Hundreds of jobs are created in this scenario and the schemes would provide pathways towards decarbonisation for the mainland, which – through the groundbreaking actions of its biggest energy company Enel – is already taking shape.

Naturally a lot has to happen politically to encourage these transitions to take place. What the research shows is that leaders meeting in Paris at the UN climate summit have a raft of options for each of their countries to move towards 100% renewable – even those still mired in economic problems.

 

Source: Greenpeace Energy desk

Date: December 2015

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