European islands – top technologies for the energy transition


A survey of technologies in some 800 projects on European islands reveal almost half pertain to energy efficiency.

About one in five of the projects are in renewable energy and a similar number in sustainable mobility, with the balance associated to energy management.

This was a finding from the ‘New Energy Solutions Optimised for Islands’ (NESOI) initiative, an EU Horizon 2020 funded facility to support the energy transition on Europe’s approximately 2,400 inhabited islands.

The NESOI survey found that the main energy efficiency application of projects was related to electricity generation and distribution, including the renovation of cabling and transformers, improved management or replacement of diesel generators and the integration of battery storage to diesel generators.

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This was closely followed by HVAC applications, including the replacement or retrofitting of heating or cooling systems and the installation of solar thermal facilities for residential or industrial use.

When considering renewable energies, the main technologies adopted seem to be related to solar, with two-thirds PV and one-fifth thermal. So far at least, wind or marine energy has seen limited exploitation and for example there has been almost none involving biomass or biogas.

In the area of sustainable mobility, initiatives have been mainly oriented to the acquisition of low carbon vehicles and consequently also the installation of charging infrastructures.

In the main, these have involved the renovation of municipal fleet vehicles and acquisition of EVs for public transportation, while others have included the installation of bike sharing systems.

Among the energy management projects, these have focussed on the installation of energy storage, in the majority of cases batteries, and energy monitoring and management systems.

NESOI is a four-year project running to September 2023, providing €3 million ($3.5 million) in direct investment and aiming to mobilise more than €100 million ($118.4 million) to support sustainable energy projects on the European islands.

With energy savings expected of 440GWh and 160Gt of carbon emissions avoided per year, the islands are a key component in the region’s emissions reductions goals.

The survey formed part of an initiative to identify critical technologies for islands based on costs and technology readiness as well as factors such as island type and geographic applicability.

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