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This paper examines the basic principles and framework upon which the transition of island and small island states to renewable energy sources–solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, and hydrogen-should be based. It advocates that islands could be the frontrunners of creating carbon free sustainable societies with qualitative economic prosperity and that could set the example for the rest of the world of how the societies of tomorrow should be1 , provided that the introduction of renewable energy is designed to hold two basic characteristics. These are diversified and flexible. In order to have this character, the introduction should be community based. It is argued that only in such a way, islands can be both pioneers of realizing the true definition of a sustainable world, as well as, ‘showcases’ for international organizations, governments, regions or communities to work out policies, models and developmental systems “that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” 2. The above-achieved results could then be modified in order to be implemented in the mainland (in other words, on a larger scale) where most of the socio-economic human activity takes place and the complexity and interrelations of the parameters involved are greater (however, this does not necessarily mean that no action should be taken in the
Jensen, Islands Development Summit Report, 2000 Brundtland Report (World Commission on Environment and Development), 1987
mainland at the same time). The main reason for islands to be strategically selected is that they still maintain in many aspects the characteristics of insular ecosystems and economies, as well as easier identifying communities. Having this characteristic, in the prevailing socio-economic reality it is considered as a disadvantage where socioeconomic activities and alternative choices are limited. However, the author argues that because of the insularity difference, islands present the ideal environment to understand the complexity of ever changing systems and their interrelations in order for humans to be able to manage at least the areas where their sustainability is affected. Islands traditionally maintain in a higher degree close community ties and in effect co-operational spirit. This stems from long experience gained throughout the years to efficiently survive in an environment with limited resources and space. As a result, using resources, such as energy in an efficient way is intimately incorporated in their customs and traditions, in a word, to their culture. Undoubtedly, identifying, nevertheless managing those areas is a daunting task and some might say it is impossible. However, humans have managed to identify some of them and there is a growing consensus on urgency for measures to be taken. Global Warming has been identified as one of them. This problem stems mainly from the present human socioeconomic activities and more specifically from the current production and consumption of energy from fossil fuels. The complete transition to renewable energy sources in pure economic terms is perceived to be a very costly challenge and for many people a technological reality far away in the time scale. The anti-thesis is that slimming the debate down to cost is not the appropriate method and a more holistic approach should be adopted to encircle all
economic, social, and ecological parameters when accounting for costs3, as well as design and planning for implementation should be integrated and interconnected with design and planning for sustainable development. Thus becoming a part of the whole process and not a sole differentiated challenge as it is intimately related with sustainability. Moreover, although it is partially true that renewable energy technology has a few more steps to make, the vital answers on behalf of renewable energy have been already given and it is now time for humanity to decide the ways that it should be utilized, as well as, design and prepare all infrastructure and institutions necessary. Sustainable Energy is a very broad concept and covers a multitude of areas, from clean energy (i.e. renewable energy), energy saving (materials energy included), efficiency in production and consumption (i.e. electricity, industry), as well as design and planning (i.e. environmental design, transport). All these areas are closely interrelated and the achievement of one does not mean in any way that the goal can be reached. As already mentioned above a holistic approach into understanding and managing the complex connections of the parts concerned should be adopted4 . However, the author has decided to examine mainly what role can islands play in creating societies where the production and consumption of electricity will be entirely achieved by renewable energy sources. Although, even if clean electricity production is achieved does not mean that the ‘decarbonisation’ goal is reached, this paper advocates that creation of electricity from renewable energy sources constitutes the cornerstone for the transition to fossil free societies. This is because, the present electricity production and supply system is highly
Dunn Seth, “Micropower: The next Electrical Era.” 2000 “European Sustainable Cities Report”, European Commission, 1996
centralized in nature, highly inefficient and it poses a huge environmental as well as financial burden to people5 . More important, the highly centralised nature of the system is the vital structure where the rest of fossil fuel dependent industries (gas, petrochemicals etc.) operate6 . For years, due to insufficient technological innovation, people have been locked up in an unorthodox system and where not left with alternative options. A system where on the demand side people ask for the services electricity offers (light, heat ect.) and the supply side is only concerned with the increase of the quantity. However, new technological innovation has freed up the possibility for the first time, for people to be able to produce the services of electricity on their own and not be dependent on the above undesirable system. For islands, although they comprise only a fraction of the global electricity demand, the introduction of renewable energy sources produced electricity, means a more economically independent economy, less stresses to their precious natural resources, job creation7, which strengthens their capacities to pursue sustainability. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier on, they can become ‘showcases’, in the case of electricity providing clues on which technology mix has the best results on differing climate and geographic environments, how and by whom the renewable energy sources derived electricity should be managed, as well as becoming an educational example for changing the perceptions of people towards renewable energy 8.
5 6 7
Dunn Seth, “Micropower: The next Electrical Era.” 2000 Scheer Herman, 1999, p. 37
“1st Conference on Sustainable Island Development”. INSULA (Inernational Council for Island Development), 1997. www.insula.org
“Renewable Energy on Small Islands”. First Edition, FED (Forum for Energy and Development), 1999
Last, but not least, electricity from renewable energy sources in the ‘Sustainable Development’ context qualifies as a prerequisite. This argument stems from the fact that even if the current electricity production system’s environmental effects would be reduced, through increased efficiency, to the point where they do not pose a significant threat to the earth’s carrying capacity, there is no guarantee that the speedily developing information economy will not increase the demand for electricity. Chapter 1 Methodology and structure of the paper In this chapter the conceptual framework and structure of this paper will be presented. The purpose of this paper is to examine and identify the basic principles upon which the transition of islands and small island states to renewable energy sources will enforce the sustainability process of their societies. 1.1 Island’s sustainability Islands despite their geographic insularity are no longer single economic entities, but integrated in and affected by the larger regional, national and international economies. Resources, goods and services provided in an island can originate from regions thousands of miles away. Furthermore, their natural environment is not only affected by the socioeconomic activity of their population, but also from the activities of people far away from their immediate geography. Most of the island’s economies are over-specialised, usually involving fishing, agriculture and tourism. Over-specialisation often becomes the reason for migration of the young population, as it does not provide alternative choices of employment. Their limited territory also means limited natural resources, thus minimum manufacturing possibilities and technology. Their isolated geography means increased import costs for the local population, as increased transportation costs occur.
The above characteristics understandably limit island’s ability for further socio-economic development and protection of their immediate environment. In other words, the broadly accepted developmental path of sustainability is affected by such factors. The sustainable development path here is adopted as the desirable development concept. Islands ability to manage their economies, environment and natural recourses in a sustainable manner is considerably weak bearing in mind their insular geography and the specificity of their economies. For example, as mentioned above, over-specialisation of their economies does not provide alternative choices for the young population resulting in increased migration flows or their limited or next to nothing natural resources, force the islands to use a considerable amount of their financial assets on importing them. As a result, their ability to finance other areas of their economy is hampered. In order for such limitations to be managed, the author argues that there must be a more localised orientation of activity in order to increase the capacity or capability of the island region. This would mean for example, a more endogenous orientation of the islands economy, could provide an index of what kind of goods and services can be produced locally and which ones must be imported, as well as attempts to produce locally products that are imported. Identifying the natural resources in the region and utilising them in a sustainable manner through the active participation of the local population, by providing incentives and creating educational institutions. In this way, the local human dynamic would be able to modify or create new technologies and techniques to manage the specificities of their individual economies and societies. Such complex task requires active and democratic participation of all the stakeholders in order to be capable in
solving present and future problems that arise and to develop flexible institutions to manage them. In effect, the author adopts the endogenous developmental strategy, which is a strategy to facilitate local sustainability by increasing local capability/capacity. This strategy is one of the main strategies the UN9 has adopted to deliver sustainable development. Endogenous development, as it is clearly identified by Prof. Miyamoto Kenichi10, has the following basic principles: First, regional development should not be held by large corporations or the central government, it should rather be based on the locally available technology, industry and culture, responding to the needs of the local market and managed by the local population. Second, such development should be integrated in the larger framework of environmental protection. It should seek to have a multiplier effect, where by improving the amenities of the locality, such as the natural and physical environment, it also improves the welfare and culture of the region concerned. Third, the industrial development of a region should be diversified and through regional industrial networking, it would increase the capabilities of the region at all different levels11.
the UN has adopted this strategy since the 70’s, as an alternative developmental path for the developing counties, it is now used as an integral strategy for sustainable development for any UN member country. The Rio UN Conference on Environment and Development, 1992, confirmed this. More specifically it is mentioned as a basis for action in Chapter 37 of Agenda 21, a detailed action plan setting out specific initiatives, which nations should undertake. The term “endogenous development” has being modified and now it is referred as “endogenous capacity building”, as it implies that development should be met entirely by self-means. On the other hand, the term “endogenous capacity building” implies the processes and means for national governments and local communities to develop the skills and expertise needed to manage their economies, environment and natural resources in a sustainable manner through cooperation. In this paper, these two terms will be used as carrying the same meaning. United Nations department of sustainable development. www.un.org
Miyamoto Kenichi, “Ecological Economics, 1989. p. 294 Authors free translation.
From the above principles, endogenous regional development12 can be identified as a development strategy that has the following characteristics: -It is based on regional necessities, locally available resources and the activation of endogenous potentials/capacities The diversity and specificity of the necessities of each region, as well as the diversity of the locally available resources, requires the development of capacities and techniques that are responsive to the characteristics of each individual place. Adaptability and flexibility, apart from dealing with the specificities of each individual region, increase the sustainability of economies and societies of the regions concerned, as they provide the capabilities to confront future changes or problems. For example, new technological changes could easier be accumulated or the socio-economic impacts on the region from unexpected natural disasters could be reduced if their potentials and institutions were more flexible. -An essential element is the broad participation of the local population in the initiating, planning, implementing and monitoring of the process of development The management of economies, environment and natural resources in a sustainable manner is a very complex task. National and regional governments alone find it very difficult to deal with such complexity. Management for sustainability requires the inclusion of a variety of parameters at all different levels to reflect all the aspects of such developmental process. Apart from the inclusion of such parameters, their connection and integration should be pursued in order to manage them more effectively.
Muehlinghaus & Waelty, 2000, see bibliography
In order to include as many parameters as possible the management process should begin at the lowest possible level with the active participation of all the stakeholders of the locality. The active participation of all the stakeholders requires the existence of democratic processes and institutions in order to reflect their views. The activation of local population in the management process can provide a vital tool in dealing with the complexity of sustainability. Local communities that traditionally hold stronger connections and experience could easier synthesise these to generate creative solutions to complex problems13. Complexity must also be confronted with sharing ideas and experiences through networking of local communities in both horizontal and vertical ways. This implies, connecting local communities with one another, as well as connecting them with the local, regional, national governmental and educational institutions. -Identifying of development niches Identifying development niches for the locality means increasing choice and diversity. Local economies and societies that posses a variety of sectors and a multiplicity of actions are better equipped for delivering sustainability. Over-specialisation of a local economy in the short term might bring prosperity to the local community, however it is prone to unexpected negative events. On the other hand, a diverse local economy is better equipped to overcome such negative effects in the event of unexpected accidents -Retaining benefits within local areas Retaining benefits within local areas results in increased local autonomy. The creation of a development path with local orientation means that the benefits derived from any new-
Burton Hugh, “Sustainable Communities”, 2000, p.150
formed sector or project should be returned to the locality. In this way, the local community could increase its autonomy by diverting such benefits to strengthen the application of the endogenous development strategy. The further local autonomy is increased the more sustainability is strengthened. -Maximisation of local control In order to increase local autonomy, local control should also be pursuit. Furthermore, local control plays an important role in increasing sustainability. For example, in the case of external investment, the stakeholders are usually away from the place where such an investment holds place. This most of the times has as a result not taking into account the local necessities or environmental implications derived from such an investment. However, creating projects with the local population as the main stakeholder increases the probabilities of factors such as the effects on the local environment or local community, to be taken into account, as the protagonists are the local population.
-Selective use of external resources Endogenous development does not mean that no external resources of any kind are not utilised. It rather stresses the need for resources substitution with those found in the locality or made dispensable by the introduction of different developmental strategies or new technologies. However, human and financial resources or technological know-how is usually scarce when development is pursed in the local level. This phenomenon is quite common in the case of islands, as their isolated geography and the monoculture of their
socio-economic structure do not provide incentives for human resources to remain or come and offer to the region. Selective use of external resources means using resources that are truly needed in the local region and the avoidance of importing resources that is of no use in the specific environment of the region concerned. The same applies to technology. The careful selection of technologies could save local financial resources and energy when it can be effective in the specific environment of each region and not be selected because it has worked in environments with different characteristics. Having analysed the specificities of islands, as well as proposed the developmental path such regions should follow in order to become sustainable, the author moves to his main argument that the introduction of renewable energy in island regions can play a protagonist role in strengthening island’s capacities in pursuing an endogenous development strategy, hence increasing their sustainability. However, before making the case for the role renewable energy can play in strengthening the sustainability of island regions, it is necessary to explain why the present energy system cannot fulfil this position.
1.2 The present energy system and sustainability The main argument here is that the present energy system is literally a system trap 14 for the simple fact that its resource base is finite. Therefore, in practice it is unsustainable as the main resources that it consumes are crude oil or natural gas, which are available in definite amounts in the earth. Crude oil and natural gas, once burned are irrecoverable.
Herman, “The Solar Economy”, 1999, p. 33
Increasing the efficiency of their use can only prolong their availability. However, no matter what, in theory, if their use will continue, at one point in time they will run out. In the case of nuclear energy, nuclear waste can be reprocessed for further energy use, but at an unbearable economic cost and with an increased risk of a nuclear accident that can have catastrophic results for present and future generations15. Furthermore, such resource base is environmentally unsustainable. The burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide emissions, which is considered as the main reason behind global warming. Understandably, the rise of the earth temperature can have irreversible results for humanity. A widely used example of such an effect is the rise of the sea level as any increase in temperature results in the polar ice meltdown. This is also a matter that will mostly affect islands, sometimes resulting in making them inhabitable. However, using Scheer’s argument in his book the “Solar Economy”, even if the present resource base is not finite or does not pose any threat to the environment, its economics present an enormous financial burden to humanity in relation to a renewable energy based system, as well as it poses a threat to the global social sustainability. This is because, resources such as crude oil and natural gas are found in relatively few locations around the globe, but consumed everywhere. As a result, long and costly supply chains are created. For example, if a country had such a resource in its territory it would use it to cover its internal demand. However, if it lacks of such resource it has to rely in long supply chains to cover its demand. The global social sustainability is threatened for the same reason. The limited reserves and locations of such resources, as history has showed
Scheer Herman, “The Solar Economy”, 1999, p. 6
can result in conflicts and as they become even scarcer the escalation of such conflicts could prove disastrous. In contrast, renewable energy sources are found in varying degrees around the world. As a result, the long supply chains can be reduced dramatically and social equity could be achieved as in theory everyone could utilise renewable energy sources anywhere.16 The same applies for islands. As the Director General of UNESCO mentioned in the Island Solar Summit 17 “most of the islands have close to none fossil resources and they are highly dependent on their exterior for their energy, which is a burden for their gross domestic product and a constrain on their development. The fragile and vulnerable nature of island environments mean that importing inappropriate energy models also represents a serious risk to island environments, their most valuable asset. On the other hand, they generally have an abundance of available renewable energy sources that would make it possible to install decentralised, stand alone and clean energy systems”. Most of the islands have energy networks entirely dependent on fossil fuels, mainly oil. From the environmental point of view, such fuel base, as described above is a pollutant factor, which also has negative effects on an other important sector that exists in the majority of islands, that of tourism. The tourist industry’s basic service is the offering of a clean environment. Thus, such an energy resource base goes against the sustainable development philosophy. On the economic side, the reality for most islands is that, once the imported crude oil is processed in the refineries mainly located in the mainland, it has to be shipped again in
Scheer Herman, “The Solar Economy”, 1999, p. 36 Island Solar Summit, “Building the future of islands”, Tenerife 1999, Summit proceedings, p. 11
order to be transported to islands. The fact that most of the islands have small populations also results in limited demand. Such limited demand, increases the transportation costs, which the islanders have to pay for. Furthermore, the limited demand makes the installed infrastructure inefficient. For example, in the case of power generation, islands with developed tourism have seasonal fluctuations in demand. As a result, the installed technologies have the capacity to meet the demand loads mainly for the four to five months that is the tourist season. However, in the remaining months that the demand is considerably low such technologies become inefficient 18. After analysing the limitations of the conventional energy system and its unsupportive role in delivering sustainability, the author will argue that only the complete transition to renewable energy can bring true sustainability in island regions by strengthening their endogenous capacity building process. The argument that only a complete transition to renewable energy could bring sustainability is the view adopted from Scheer Herman’s book “The solar economy”. First, however, it is necessary to reason why renewable energy can bring sustainability. 1.3 Renewable energy and sustainability In contrast to conventional energy, the sources that renewable energy utilises are unlimited and clean, therefore sustainable. The sun’s sunlight or heat for example is available at varying degrees everywhere and its transformation to energy does not produce any pollutant emissions. In this respect, renewable energy is in principle sustainable. Furthermore, the fact that it is available relatively everywhere it is also
This is because, “Conventional energy power stations have to cope with fluctuations in demand which can never be accurately predicted, so there must always be steam on tap to drive the turbines-which means that fuel must be burnt even when demands is low. If demand falls the stem must be vented”. Scheer, 1999, p. 155
considered sustainable in socio-economic terms, as it reduces the risk of tensions arising around a limited resource. For the same reason, it is socially equitable, as everyone can have access to it everywhere. The technologies that are utilised to produce energy are small and modular, thus they can be employed near the point of consumption. This results into dramatically decreased supply chains, in other words reduced costs of production and distribution infrastructure, as well as minimum environmental impacts. The nature of renewable energy technologies also facilitates the above. The conversion process of the source to energy has a small number of stages19, which also results in reduced costs and environmental effects. The variety of the technologies for tapping renewable energy sources20 can also create a flexible system where energy can be produced efficiently according to its availability degrees in different geographic regions. Most important, the short supply chains and the flexibility of the various renewable energy technologies have made it possible to create a decentralised energy system where the production and consumption can be contained in the locality. In contrast to the highly centralised conventional energy system with the long supply chains the nature of renewable energy can create a distributed system where locally produced energy is locally consumed and where all the assorted benefits stay in the locality. In this respect, renewable energy can be a valuable tool for strengthening the endogenous capacity of a locality. However, this requires the complete transition to a
See figure 2.1 in chapter two
photovoltaics (PV), windfarms, hydropower, wave power, tide power, and biomass combustion for generating electricity-solar water heating and hot water storage tanks, heat pumps and biomass-fired boilers for heating-motors that run on liquid, liquefied or gasified biomass-or hydrogen extracted using renewable energy for use as a fuel or to drive industrial processes.
decentralised renewable energy system and not just the introduction of renewable energy as an accompanying source of energy integrated in the present centralized conventional system21 . If for example, a renewable energy project was introduced and followed the principles of the centralised conventional system, it would mean that only a fraction of the benefits would remain in the region that was implemented as the control and the consumption of the produced energy could take place in a region far away. Therefore, in order for a renewable energy project to enhance the process of the endogenous development strategy it will require a localised, highly decentralised approach. Municipal electricity utilities22 or community electricity cooperatives for example do carry the characteristics of localised orientation, as they bring control over the production and consumption of energy to the local community, reduce the dependency on imported resources, and retain the economic and social benefits to the locality. The above argument, also applies to islands. The introduction of renewable energy in islands reduces and eventually could eliminate their high dependency on fossil fuels imports. It can create a new development sector, which could create new jobs, hence reduce migration flows. By creating a new development sector it also increases the diversity and flexibility of their socio-economic structure, which makes them more durable in external economic pressures or unexpected events. The variety of the renewable energy technologies can also be a factor in increasing flexibility and diversity, as it will require obtaining the required knowledge and the creation of institutions to deal
Scheer Herman, 1999, p. 269 See figure 3.2, chapter 3
with the technologies diverse requirements. Most important, the introduction of renewable energy in islands increases the protection of their valuable environment.
1.4 The introduction patterns of renewable energy and endogenous capacity building. In this part the author presents a new argument that it is believed as necessary when discussing renewable energy implementation. It is in a way a further insight in Herman Scheer’s arguments that the transition to a renewable energy should not mean that renewable energy should play a peripheral role to the already established conventional system and that the introduction of renewable energy should not adopt the characteristics of the present highly centralised conventional energy system. If this would be so, then the socio-economic benefits anticipated for the locality would not be realised, which is also the basic argument of this paper’s author that renewable energy can strengthen the endogenous capacities of a region such as islands. The views of Herman Scheer help identify the possibilities of the present renewable energy technologies and the possible characters the newly introduced renewable energy systems could have in the process of transition from the present conventional system. He has identified that the possibilities of the presently available renewable energy technologies could be limited depending on the transition patterns from the conventional to the renewable system. For example, as he mentions, “if the switch to renewable resources simply replaces elements of the established fossil fuel structure, this will introduce a systemic bias that will hamper the
growth of the renewables sector23 ” and as it was argued above it could eliminate the possibilities for the locality anticipated from renewables. The insight that is being added here is that even for the highly decentralised renewable energy systems there must be care as it is possible to become themselves an obstacle in bringing the anticipated benefits that renewable energy technologies hold for the future. In this argument, two new parameters are considered, that of renewable energy technologies evolution and the ability of such locally based renewable energy systems to adapt to such evolution. An indicative example could be the following. A highly locally oriented renewable energy project, such as a large wind farm for the production of electricity to be consumed in the immediate region, can have all the assorted socioeconomic benefits for region concerned, and in effect represents a favourable energy system for the region. However, when considering that the renewable energy technologies evolution will make it possible to create decentralised autonomous/stand alone energy systems of a higher degree, such as autonomous energy systems for houses, then it is possible that the already established local based energy systems to become an obstacle in the introduction of such new technologies. This in effect, will hamper the possibility for humans to become even more independent on their energy needs, and once again becoming unable to receive the assorted benefits from such new technologies. Therefore, the introduction of renewable energy projects that are based on the conventional energy structures and that are not flexible enough to adapt new renewable
Scheer Herman, 1999, p. 77
energy technologies could create a rigidity trap 24, which the author will call it in this paper, a new system trap. It means that this kind of renewable energy system is environmentally sustainable, as its resource base is non pollutant, however, the true benefits that renewable energy technologies can bring to the locality are realised to the minimum and the system’s rigidity in relation to newly evolved technologies can further prevent the benefits anticipated in renewables. In this context, such new system trap limits the ability of renewable energy to support the process of endogenous capacity building pursued by islands. The introduction of such renewable energy system does not have negative impact to the island’s environment. However, if maintains the centralised nature of the present conventional system, then benefits, such as greater autonomy, independency, flexibility and diversity will not be achieved for islands. In order to avoid the above-mentioned new system trap, the author argues that the planning and implementation process of renewable energy projects should include the characteristics of the endogenous development strategy. What has being done is the modification of the basic principles of the endogenous development strategy in the context of renewable energy projects implementation. This kind of approach has reciprocal effects, as it shows that the endogenous development strategy can be
The term ‘rigidity trap’ is borrowed from Gunderson & Holling, “Panarchy: Understanding transformations in human and natural systems”. p. 96. As they describe in their book, their examination of human and ecological systems, has shown that “it might be possible to have a sustainable, but maladaptive system. Imagine a situation where potential is high, connectedness is great, and, unlike the phase where those conditions exist in an adaptive cycle, resilience is high. The high resilience would mean a great ability for a system to resist external disturbances and persist, even beyond the point where it is adaptive and creative. The high potential would be measured in accumulated wealth. The high connectedness would come from efficient methods of social control whereby any novelty is either smothered or sees its inventor ejected. It would represent a rigidity trap”. The author of this paper, does not use the same term, as it is recognised that the character of the trap proposed in this paper, although has many similarities with the ‘rigidity trap’, it is too early to homogenise them, and the further examination of their characteristics is still needed.
strengthened by renewable energy introduction and at the same time new system traps can be avoided if the implementation process of renewable energy follows the principles of such strategy. As mentioned in section 1.1, endogenous development is a development strategy, which is based on regional necessities, locally available resources and the activation of endogenous potentials/capacities. An essential element of the strategy is the broad participation of the local population in the initiating, planning, implementing and monitoring the process of development. The activities include identifying developments niches, retaining benefits within local areas, maximising local control, and making selective use of external resources. The above principles were modified in order to become the main principles that should be followed when introducing and implementing renewable energy projects in order to avoid new system traps. The modified principles are as follows: 1) Broad participation of the local population The complex issues associated with renewable energy systems and technology could be better dealt with if their introduction is community-based with the broad participation of its members. Communities that are well connected and contain a good diversity of ideas and experience are better able to synthesize these to generate creative solutions to complex problems. Thus, here another form of networking, the social inter-connectivity, which is expressed by the community, can be a vital tool for dealing with the complex issues of the renewable energy system25 .
Barton Hugh, 2000, p. 89
2) Based on locally available resources In the sort and medium term, to the extent it is technological feasible, local energy demand should be met locally with autonomy the long-term target. 3) Identifying development niches to increase choice and diversity The energy mix and renewable technology should be chosen by the active participation of the end users with consultation of experts and not being introduced in a top down manner, thus preventing new system traps and keeping the system open and diverse. In this way new development niches for renewable energy can be identified, as the end users will actively participate and the variety of their needs will be better heard.
4) Based on regional necessities The renewable energy technologies and resources should be selected to best fit the geographical, climatic and aesthetics of the specific place they are to be introduced. 5) Connection and integration The renewable energy project should be integrated in order to provide multiple services. For example, electricity from renewable sources should also be diverted to heat, cooling or moving power for cars. 6) Flexibility/Adaptability This principle applies in two areas. First, the renewable energy technologies should be flexible enough to adapt to the changing demands of the end user. Second, the renewable energy system should also be flexible enough to accumulate new technologies easily and economically.
7) Maximising local control Bureaucratic or top-down control over planning and implementation tends to stick to rigid structures and old time formulas, which lack creativity and sometimes ignore special needs of the various agents affected. Increased user or community control as mentioned above can find more creative solutions and be more sensitive to the requests of energy end users. In this chapter, the conceptual framework and background of the basic arguments of this paper were presented. In the next chapter a more detailed analysis of the present energy system will be made.
Chapter 2 The Conventional Energy System .1 The present unsustainable energy system Ecological Economics recognizes that the present global economy has an unsustainable dependency on limited fossil fuels. From the environmental point of view this kind of economy inevitably overstretches, damage and even destroy the limited planetary resources on which our life depends: the water, the land and the atmosphere26 . On the socio-economic side, the fact that fossil fuels location and reserves are limited, throughout the 19th century has become the main cause for conflict over control and as the amount continues to become scarce, those conflicts will increase. Another, factor is that those resources are found in relative few locations around the globe, but consumed
Dunn Seth, “Micropower: The next Electrical Era.” 2000
everywhere. As a result, the political and economic structures are tied down leaving no room for alternative choices coming forward. Two easily identified examples of this reality are the growing importance of geopolitics in the world political arena, and the increasing power that the small number of giant energy corporations have over the extraction, supply, production and distribution of these resources. As mentioned above fossil fuel resources are found in a relative few locations around the world. As a result the electricity industry, which is a consumer of all the fossil fuels and the supplier of energy in its most versatile form, has created a giant supply chain from the point of resource extraction to the point of product delivery. It has being calculated about eight links in the supply chain for coal-fired power stations and at least ten for nuclear power stations as opposed to on-the-spot direct conversion of sun light to electricity from PV panels, no supply chains at all (fig.2.1).
Nuclear Uranium mining Shipping Ore extraction Shipping Enrichment -Disposal of enriched uranium Shipping Nuclear power station Intermediate storage Final storage Reprocessin g National grid (high voltage) National grid (medium voltage) Distribution (low voltage)
Shipping Garages Oil traders
Oil-fired power station
National grid (high voltage)
National grid (medium voltage)
Distribution (low voltage)
Figure 2.1 Comparison of electricity generation from fossil fuels and renewables. Source: Scheer Herman, “The Solar Economy”, p.79
“These figures take no account of the supply chains involved in the construction of extraction facilities, pipelines, tankers and freighters, power stations and cabling, nor of the need to deal with land and water pollution, nor indeed of the damage to human health and to the climate caused by individual links in the chain”
As it can be understood
with such giant supply chains enormous costs are also involved, which are mainly subsidised by national governments. Governments are tied down between a single energy system with long supply chains and the assorted costs, and the strategic imperative of energy security, which is the most important element of a modern national economy and society. As a result, national governments are left with no choice than subsidise heavily the energy industry. However, when considering that all these subsidies go on an energy source which is finite, it is quite apparent that this amount of money is being given for an unsustainable cause, in other words for no reason at all. The limitations of such system are also illustrated by the fact that although there is a consensus for the need for the dramatic decrease of carbon dioxide emissions produced by fossil fuel burning, the official predictions28 show that commercial energy supply in the next two decades will have a 77% increase from 1990 levels. Furthermore, considering electricity consumption alone (fig. 2.2), a substantial increase is predicted, mainly due to the increase of consumption in developing countries and the ever-growing global transportation sector and information technology. Any growth in electricity consumption based on fossil fuel resources, means a further step towards climate change.
Scheer Herman, “The Solar Economy”, p. 42 International Energy Agency: World Energy Outlook 1998, “Medium-growth Scenario”, www.iea.org
In sum, the present energy system constitutes a system trap where its moving resource is finite and where its structure makes it very difficult for alternatives to come forward.
2010 1995 1971 0%
29.80% 26.80% 22.70% 20% 40%
Source: International Energy Agency: World Energy Outlook 1998
In response to the above-mentioned problems, two main first steps have being introduced. Firstly, “harnessing increased resource productivity to achieve a tenfold reduction in the energy and materials inputs required for the production of goods and services” (factor 10, factor 4) 29, a proposal which no dough of immense importance, has only to do with the quantity of energy consumed and not with choice of energy and material source. Second, the complete transition to renewable energy sources proposal is put forward. In the author’s view, it is a prerequisite for both alternatives to be pursuit together as it is recognized that they are supplementary to one another.
.2 The present electricity system and its potential future form if left uninterrupted
Today’s electric power $850 billion industry is one of the causes of the problems mentioned in the previous section. It is mainly based on the ‘large –scale’ model, with its ‘economies of scale’, as the best way to generate low-cost power for consumers. It is also
Hawken & Lovins, 1999, p. 13
distinguished for its highly inefficient rate of conversion of primary energy to secondary energy and to the delivery of secondary energy to the end-user. In this process the amount of 70% of primary energy is lost (graph. 1.3)
Energy loss in form of heat
OIL Total Energy100%
End –User Energy 30%
Source: NHK website “forum for energy" On the contrary, a mini power plant using fuels cells as its electricity production technology, can be up to two-and-one-half times more efficient than an internal combustion engine, as well as silent as it has no moving parts 30. The economics of the present system have reached ‘diseconomies of scale’, where it has become uneconomical to supply ever growing amounts of energy by building even larger power plants. Despite all these shortcomings, the once unquestioned national electric power monopolies are now being liberalised in order to become more efficient with a customer oriented marketing practice and give the end-users the ability to chose their supplier. However, what is happening in reality is the creation of private companies with their primary concern the maximisation of the dividends of their shareholders by selling more energy. In order to maximise their profits there has been a spree of mergers and acquisitions first on national level, and expanding beyond national boundaries with multinational mergers.
Hoffmann. Tomorrow’s Energy. P. 88
As a result the birth of multinational power corporations has been spreading forming in effect even more powerful monopolies than the old national ones. Those companies have become to hold enormous financial and political influence. Using this power have been consciously buying the remaining municipal electricity utilities, as well as throwing out of the market through price competition practices local or regional independent electricity suppliers. Furthermore, the international transmission networks that they have created are highly inefficient and prone to accidents resulting in power blackouts. In 2003 alone there have being so far four major blackouts of such nature. First on the 14th of august the largest power blackout in the history of North America, in New York, Detroit and Toronto31 with fifty million people being left without electricity for three days. On the 28th of the same month in London, the 23rd of September in Denmark and Sweden and on the 28th of that month in Italy with the main source of the problem though of being in Switzerland or Austria where a French power conglomerate is producing power32. The similarity of these blackouts is the fact that the origin of the problem was far away from where the damage was made, and in this case across the borders of the countries that took the damage. The result, enormous costs from lost business, damaged sensitive products (food supplies, medicines needing refrigeration etc.) and end-users as the main losers. Up until the time this paper is written, there has not being yet any official blame or action taken against the responsible power companies of the above mentioned events. It is also highly unlikely for
Source of problem is though to be in Canada, however the outcomes of the internal study not yet concluded. Source: Eleftherotipia Newspaper, 29th of Sep.
Italy is importing 60% of its electricity from France. Source: Eleftherotipia Newspaper, 29th of Sep.
any action to be taken against, as any compensations paid would be mean the immediate bankruptcy of the companies involved. The surprising thing is that the official response of the EU commissioner for energy matters Loyola de Palathio after the events in Italy was that “to prevent such events in the future, there must be greater liberalisation of the market, creating a pan-European network that all member countries will be connected”33. In other words, even bigger more complicated networks where multinational power companies can get even easier away with their wrong doings. Although, the European Union is actively pursuing more local flexibility and autonomy, there has not being yet any response asking for more localised power autonomy, through the utilisation of renewable energy for example, to avoid such events in the future. Liberalisation of the power market can be a good thing in principle, giving the opportunity to independent suppliers to produce conventional or green electricity locally and being able to answer to the market niches that exist. However, in order for this to be done there must be a framework to protect them from hostile takeovers or bullying from the power conglomerates. What is happening in reality with the liberalisation of the energy market is that now these newly formed power corporations can use their considerable financial assets to enter new markets such as the telecommunications and electronic media markets on general. Their competitive advantage, apart from their financial power, is that they have control of the electricity grid networks. In theory, those networks can be easily transformed to have a dual purpose, that is transmitting power and data at the same time. Today the power grid is the most extensive cable network that
: Eleftherotipia Newspaper, 29th of Sep.
exists. With the growing convergence of technology, such power corporations, by taking over TV networks or online business, could transform into literal empires controlling two of the most important aspects of modern society, energy and information. This is perceived as a major threat to the modern society, culture and democracy 34. This trend could be overturned by creating a framework in the low levels of the social organisation pursuing further autonomy and flexibility and control on their power choice, mainly based on renewable energy, as well as creating the appropriate institutions to protect and help them to reach such a goal.
Chapter 3 The Renewable Energy System 3.1 The renewable energy sources utilisation system The surfacing of new technological, economic, and environmental trends created the possibility to out seat the present energy model and in its place, introduce a more smallscale decentralized system35. New technologies such as solar cells, micro turbines, fuel cells (energy storage), and various other devices have two basic characteristics. They are small and modular and their advantage stems not from economies of scale, but from economies of productionproducing more units to lower costs. In addition to this, they are flexible systems that can
Scheer Herman, 1999, p. 60 Dunn Seth, “Micropower: The next Electrical Era.” 2000
be adjusted to match the scale of demand and installed far more quickly than a large power station and avoid large transmission distances (efficiency). Furthermore, this kind of smaller adjustable systems can facilitate more local control over power use, contributing to economic development within the community and reducing reliance on distant institutions 36. The small-scale decentralized systems have also immense environmental benefits. Their source of energy can be entirely achieved by renewable energy sources, thus leaving a considerably lighter ecological footprint than the presently used fossil energy sources37. This kind of model also referred as distributed generation38 is widely accepted as the best way of producing and delivering electricity. However, there are two very important debates going on concerning this kind of system. Firstly the choice of energy sources, in other words whether distributed generation’s energy source will continue to be fossil fuels or renewable energy sources. Using fossil fuels, distributed generation can be very efficient, thus slowing down the pace of environmental degradation (a view which mainly held from those that have powerful interests in the oil business), nevertheless it can never be a sustainable power generation model. This can only be achieved by the utilization of renewable energy sources. The second debate, which is a follow up of the first, has to do with whether an abundant source of energy like renewable should be a freely shared resource held in common or a
36 37 38
Dunn Seth, “Micropower: The next Electrical Era.” 2000 Wackernagel & Rees, 1996, p. 27
Integrated or stand alone small electricity generation power plants that are located near or at the site of the end user-factories, commercial businesses, public buildings, neighbourhoods, and private residences. Chambers, 2001, p. 8
propertied commodity 39. Proponents of renewable energy sources derived electricity are of course in favour of being held in common as its characteristic of abundance plays the catalytic role this time, as well as the benefits derived could be utilised in the region or locality that renewable energy is produced. The debate goes further on. Once people become able to produce their own power and adjust it to their own needs, some say that the excess produced quantity could be sold to others through an established network. It would be a similar network to the Internet where human thought can be shared or sold by anyone to everybody 40. However, the other side of the debate stresses that networks in general and power networks in particular can turn into a trap because although they tend to liberate, they also always represent a restriction on or danger to individual freedom. In the case of electricity networks technology gives the possibility for power to move sideways, however, the ability of managing the network flows tends to move power upwards. This illustrates the present electricity network and in a sense prophesises the next step that the giant power corporations will be very keen to take in order to control this newly developed network. In this context, it is arguable that once power is harnessed through autonomous installations/stand alone systems 41, they make networks dispensable. The author favours the latter view as it considers that it constitutes a truly democratic way for people dealing
39 40 41
Rifkin Jeremy, 2002, p. 216 Rifkin Jeremy, 2002, p. 201
“The term stand-alone system covers both those which are wired up and always ready for use, and those which function completely independently, without wires. Take the apparently small example of the household doorbell. The transformer for a doobell consumes between 9 and 22 kwh a year. For the around 37 million households in Germany, that adds up to a total consumption of over 500 million kwh annually, equiveland to the electricity consumption of a town of 100,000 inhabitants. A single, matchbox-sized PV module mounted on the wall by the doorbell would be enough to keep the bell going. To put it another way, this would equate to the installation of 500 MW of photovoltaics, four times the annual world output in 1998.” Source: Scheer Herman, 1999, p. 175
with electricity once and for all, freeing them from additional costs, competition, and chronic dependencies. Until this will become technologically feasible, there should be at least provisions for such a network to be decentralised with the powers of control and management been distributed locally. This paper has chosen renewable energy sources electricity production as the main focus point, because it believes that the electricity production model will have a decisive impact on the transition of other energy consuming sectors (i.e. transport) to a renewable energy base as well as to the socio-economic benefits of the community. The main difficulty with renewable energy sources electricity production is planning and policy making for the sort, medium and long-term. The present state of renewable energy technology facilitates a centralised planned infrastructure based on the existing connection grid. For example, large wind parks are built connected to the conventional grid from suppliers outside the locality with the sole purpose of selling energy to the local distributor. This practice is using the existing structures, following the conventional market mechanism. Another example is building solar thermal power plants that instead of providing with electricity the areas in the vicinity, their purpose is to provide electricity for an inter-regional –or even an international- distribution grid. From the environmental perspective such approaches are sound as well as sustainable, at least in economic terms as long as the extensive supply networks continue to be financed by citizens. This however creates a new system trap (figure 3.1), which at the same time minimises the role renewable energy can play in increasing local capacities. In the long-term renewable energy technology will facilitate a system with minimal supply chains, on the
spot generation and consumption, flexibility and autonomy. As its basic prospect is bringing complete energy autonomy, it makes networks dispensable. For example, fuelcell energy storage systems for house use, storing hydrogen produced from PV panels attached to the roof, could eventually provide energy for all the needs of the house, as well as the family fuel-cell car, without being dependent of being connected to the distribution grid. Such characteristics will be lost and renewable energy growth will be hampered if its introduction plays just a supplementary role in the conventional system or follows its present networks philosophy. It is in effect a new system trap where renewable energy is based on existing conventional structures of the energy industry; it does not disturb the already known social framework that end users are used to, in other words “business as usual”, it is sustainable as long as the costs continue to be paid from end users and environmentally sound, but where such characteristics make it maladaptive and non-flexible in the face of renewable energy technological progress or too costly to adapt such new technologies. On a cost basis analysis, as this system trap prevents the growth of renewable energy market, in effect, the potential of renewable energy technology to become less costly in producing electricity through economies of production, is hampered. Also the amount of money spent on building and supporting such networks, should rather be spent on promoting efficiency and autonomy. Such new system trap, meaning centralised renewable energy, with long inefficient distribution networks, in effect minimises the ability of the locality to increase its capacity, which come with a decentralised, locally-based energy system. Obviously, this is a very hard task to deal with as on the one hand there exist environmental pressures
that require no time lost for cleaning up the electricity system and on the other hand the need for a carefully planned transition to a system that is socially equitable in the longterm. Thus, the present design and policy making has to make provisions for the longterm vision of renewable energy sources electricity production. Figure 3.1 Planning for sustainability and new system traps
Present Technology time
Planning for Sustainability
The transition to a renewable energy distribution system in the medium term will inevitably be dependent to another form of networking, cooperation. As the main characteristics of this system are the small scale and decentralized, community and regional cooperation become essential. This is mainly because the cost of renewable energy technologies is still high, as well as, the application of these advanced technologies require a fair amount of expertise. Furthermore, the comparatively small scale of the community better qualifies for such decentralized power system. For the same reasons the giant power corporations are standing on a favourable position on using their resources to maintain their oligopoly nature. That is why strong political will is
needed, where through strategic policies and regulations will provide communities or regional administrations the means to create their own infrastructure and free them from their dependency on oligopoly institutions. Decentralized municipal utilities (figure 3.2) or community electricity cooperatives present examples of the institutional models that the transition to renewable sources based electricity production can be held upon. These kinds of organizational models’ main characteristics are that the control over planning, choice of energy source, profits and distribution equality remains to citizens. The role of the state or international institutions (i.e. the EU) would be to adopt the subsidiary principle (main characteristic of EU policy), where policymaking should be designed and implemented at the lowest possible level and where incentives (financial or technological support) should be actively promoted from the top level. In this context, local communities earn the flexibility to select the energy technology mix that best fits their energy demand, as well as, their geographic and climate characteristics. As mentioned above there is a variety in the characters a renewable energy system can have. It is argued that the favourable renewable energy system should be decentralised, diverse and flexible and adaptable in order for new system traps to be avoided and as it will be discussed in the next section, in order to strengthen the endogenous capacities of the locality.
Figure 3.2 Model for the future: municipally/regionally integrated energy supply incorporating renewable energy. Source: “The Solar Economy”, H.Scheer, 1999.
Independent local suppliers of green
On-site generation and supply by households and businesses
Generation of heat and electricity Energy storage*
Energy-consuming households and businesses
Energy-autonomous households and businesses Agriculture and forestry, including bio-gas, fuel and pest-deterrent production Bio-fuel production Energy-management contractors Fertilizer and pestdetergent production and trade Garages
Possible roles for a municipal energy holding company *Including locally collected organic waste, bio-gasification, and hydrogen production
.2 The role of renewable energy in strengthening local capacities
In principle, it is widely accepted that a positive relationship exists between energy and economic development. Renewable energy utilisation in the local context, is a way of stopping spending on energy leaving an area for some anonymous multinational utility with no stake in the locality. Locally based renewable energy resources utilisation,
automatically means that the resources of the vicinity are used for the benefit of the local community. The results, avoided costs from importing fuel, lower costs for energy services and energy bills being paid to a local enterprise, which will in turn stimulate the local economy and provide local employment. The impacts of renewable energy on the local employment can be both direct and indirect42. Direct jobs can be created in the construction and operation phases of a renewable energy plant or, in the case of biomass energy, on agriculture as the local population will be hired for growing the agricultural bio-crops that would serve as an input for the plant, as well as organising of the collection, treatment and transport of these crop, which is very labour-intensive tasks. Indirect employment can also be created from the impact that of renewable energy technologies will have on the local industrial sector. By the introduction of renewable technology there can be a creation of a local industry for the construction, maintenance, or production of the parts, and hence creation of jobs. There can also be an expansion of existing sectors that have a direct relation with energy efficiency, such as architecture. Furthermore, employment can be created in education for building the local human capacity that will eventually work in the above sectors. A recent study carried out by the European Commission in 1998-9, predicted that the new jobs created from renewable energy by 2020 would be over 900,00043. In addition to local employment creation, once local capacity will have reached an appraisable level, the way for the export of technology or know-how is opened, bringing additional income to the locality.
Geller Howard, 2003, p. 155
The impact of renewables on employment and economic growth. ALTENER project 4.1030/E/97-009. The key findings of the study are in the ANNEX 1, in the back of the paper.
Renewable energy is a form of clean energy with low ecological footprint and limited or no carbon dioxide emissions at all. The ability of communities producing energy from an unlimited resource with minimal environmental effects to the locality is also considered an increase in local capacity. Prevention of depletion of local resources, clean air and water sufficiency, all qualify as targets of the endogenous development strategy. This in return brings environmental responsibility. As Houghton writes in “The Community Energy Utility”44 , “Weighting up of personal energy needs and environmental concerns becomes very real when the source of energy is on your doorstep and you have a stake in energy developments. The result is that environmentally benign energy sources and the cleanest energy technology become the obvious choice. Bringing energy supply closer to the user both in terms of location and control can have a positive effect on people’s awareness of the environmental and other implications of their end use of energy and other resources”. Apart from environmental responsibility, locally produced clean energy can also increase social responsibility on the part of the consumer, as well as the supplier. This derives from the fact that in a locally managed power utility, the end users are both shareholders of such utility. For example, the end user will be more punctual with its pay bill as he/she or the neighbours have direct stakes on it. In effect, debt management costs can be reduced considerably. Furthermore, localised utilities are strongly influenced by their community stakeholders apart from providing affordable services, to be socially responsible and accountable in their practices.
Chapter 12 of “Sustainable Communities”. Hugh Barton, 2000. p. 189
Being a stakeholder over the management and control of a local resource creates the sense of stewardship were it can expand in other sectors of social life for example, stewardship for the protection of local traditions and customs or culture. Increases in local capacity can also be identified for communities of a specific character. The impact of renewable energy on underdeveloped rural communities can be found in more basic needs of the everyday life. An indicative example can be the access to audiovisual services, which may play a role in developing the informational and educational level of the rural population. All these benefits comply with principles of endogenous capacity building of the Local Agenda 21, which was brought forward in the Rio Summit 45.
In the next chapter the role of renewable energy in strengthening islands capabilities will be examined. Furthermore, the introduction patterns of renewable energy projects will be analysed. Chapter 4 Introducing Renewable Energy in Islands First it is necessary to outline the attractiveness of islands for the introduction of renewable energy. 4.1 The attractiveness of islands for renewable energy introduction. In this part, there is a brief introduction of the advantageous characteristics that islands offer to the promotion of renewable energy: High Visibility*46
United Nations Division for Sustainable Development, www.un.org/esa/sustdev/documents/agenda21/ indexhtm
Extract from: “Renewable Energy on small Islands”, 2nd edition. FED, 2000
Islands are areas surrounded by water. This means they are well-defined entities not only speaking of geography, but also in terms of energy production, population, economy and so forth. Thus, islands can become highly visible laboratories for renewable energy technology, organization, and financing. Renewable energy islands (REI) are a very useful way to make future energy systems visible and concrete. Need for demonstration of Renewable Energy in an Integrated and Organized Form * If decision-makers world-wide should be inspired to aim at a broader use of renewable energy as part of a sustainable development, it is necessary to demonstrate renewable energy in a large scale, integrated and organized form, and placed in a well defined areai.e. a REI. Large Scale Utilisation of Renewable Energy Possible on Islands* A dramatic shift to renewable energy on a large scale on continents/main lands is unrealistic in the short and medium term in regard to technology, financing and organization. However, it would be of high interest to demonstrate the possibilities of smaller communities to base their entire energy supply on renewable sources. Islands can cheaper, faster and easier reach a higher share of renewable energy in its energy balance than a much bigger mainland. The very smallness of the islands-that often is seen as a disadvantage- in this context actually an advantage. More progressive Attitudes towards Renewable Energy* Many islands have positive attitudes towards the utilization of renewable energy also on the political level. One reason being the threat from global warming. Even though islands contribute only negligible to global emission of greenhouse gasses, many islands around the world are
among the immediate victims of climate change and instability caused by fossil fuel consumption in industrialized countries. Islands thus have a strong interest in changing energy patterns for instance by demonstrating new sustainable ways of satisfying energy needs. Another reason for the more progressive attitude found in islands is the near total absence of fossil fuel resources on islands. In many mainland countries, developing as well as industrialised, one major barrier for promotion of renewable energy resources is the presence of an economic and political elite that has very strong interests in the utilisation of the countries fossil fuels resources either for export or domestic purposes. Most islands’ main resources are the ocean, the population and the geography for tourism. Next to none have fossil fuel resources. Competitive advantage* Most small islands around the world today are depended on imported fossil fuels for their energy needs, especially for transport and electricity production. Because of the small size and isolated location of many islands, infrastructure costs such as energy are up till three to four times higher than on the mainland. The high price for fossil fuels combined with the limited demand increases the unit cost of production for conventional power production. This creates a competitive situation for renewable energy technologies on islands. Furthermore, most of the islands are endowed with good renewable resources, primarily sun and the wind. Experiences Applied in non-island Areas* Experiences gathered on islands can be used, not only on islands, but in principle everywhere. REI’s can serve as demonstration projects for mainland local communities,
not only in developed countries, but also in developing countries. There are about 2.5 billion people living outside a national grid in developing countries. These people also need electricity services and experiences from REI’s are highly relevant in this context. Furthermore, through concentrated efforts some small islands states can serve as demonstration nations. Despite their small size small island states could set an example to the world’s nations.
REI’s international educational impact As already mentioned, on of the main island resource is its geography for tourism. Visitors to the island come from a great variety of places, have different ages, different professional backgrounds, and cultures. Thus, the educational impact expands greater than the small circle of policy makers and people with expertise or interest in renewable energy. Islands’ maintain the traditional knowledge of efficient energy use Most of the islands still maintain to a formidable degree traditional ways of fishing farming and architecture, which all provide great knowledge for efficient ways of energy utilisation. Apart from the advantages islands offer for the promotion of renewable energy, there must be a consideration of the benefits that the introduction of such energy offers to islands. 4.2 The role of renewable energy in strengthening island capacities 47
This is an addition to the 3.2 section of the paper. Thus, the findings of the 3.2 part of the paper also apply to islands. The addition here, is modified to fit the specific context of islands.
Sense of security In the case of the older generation, the creation of an energy system without blackouts and economical heating and cooling, can provide the sentimental security that is so vital to older peoples everyday life, especially in such isolated areas as islands. Access to information The flexibility and mobility of renewable energy, apart from covering the basic needs for isolated communities, which mainly exist in underdeveloped islands, also brings information through various media. Increased volume of information can have both beneficial and destructive effects. On the beneficial side, information exchange through community networking is a means of sharing experiences, creating solutions to problems, as well as having greater influence on decisions made in higher levels. This can be a valuable tool for islands, which usually have limited influence on their own, as the proportion of their population and economy is relatively small. Increased volume of information can also be a stimulus to the creativity of the people in the community, in order to tackle existing and future problems. Information however, can have an unwelcome impact on the customs and traditions of such isolated communities, as well as becoming the cause for increased migration of the young generation. It could equally be argued though, that such increased access to information could prove to be a preventive cause to migration, as it could also make people think or appreciate the merits of their locality.
Island’s water shortage48 Water shortage is a problem found in most islands. The limited natural water basins, the poor infrastructure, and the high demand levels from tourism are the main causes of shortage. Pumped storage49 of desalinated water from renewable energy can be an effective solution to such problem. The creation of water basins for the storage of water, which is also a form of energy storage, can also play the role of a biotope for the preservation of the local environment. Added-value services of the tourism industry of islands Tourism is the main industry for many islands. As most industries, tourism is also a very competitive sector, which requires a continuous renewal of services as well as discovering new market niches. Renewable energy introduction in islands could create a new market or competitive advantage, as it could promote the environmental consciousness of the island community as an added value service.
Next is an examination of the introduction patterns of renewable energy in islands.
4.3 The patterns of renewable energy introduction in islands
There has been a great build-up for introduction of renewable energy in islands in the recent years. The potential for islands regions is recognised and there is increased cooperation in all different levels concerning this area, and with it an extensive literature
“Renewable energy sources for islands, tourism and water desalination”, Chania Conference, 2003, www.erec-renewables.org
Pumped storage is a form of energy storage. Water is pumped to a higher ground level, using renewable or conventionally produced energy, and in the case of excess demand it produces hydroelectric power.
on the subject. Most of the literature demands for a holistic approach to be taken when planning for renewable energy in islands, including all technological, ecological, social and economic aspects. However, when reading the various case studies and implementation projects on islands50, some common patterns can be identified in most of them. That is, in most cases, the implementation of a project is in a top down manner in communication with the local authorities, but not the local communities. Private companies away from the islands own much of the projects so the profits do not go back to the local community. Much of the gravity is put on technological issues and costbenefit analysis and there is a lack of a long-term evaluation of the social impacts from such projects. Furthermore, the introduction and completion of such projects is relatively speedy, which from the environmental point of view it is welcomed, but it leaves little time for local capacity building or organised action from the local communities. This centralised, top-down implementation pattern can create a new system trap for the islands where their communities could be refused of the benefits of a more flexible and autonomous system. In the case of islands, falling in such a new system trap could be very difficult to get out, as their limited financial resources do not leave space for continuous system change. Overall, fundamental questions concerning the future of energy are not being asked. For example, who should have the power to distribute energy? If communities in the near future truly become able to produce their own energy, why should this task be left to private companies? If the objective of sustainable energy becomes feasible, why should
“ Island Solar Summit”, Tenerife 1999 “Renewable Energy on Small Islands”, Forum for Energy & Development 2000
citizens pay for a common good? How a specific project is related to the above questions? These questions should be made at an early stage in order to allow time for the strengthening of community governance through active participation of all the local stakeholders as well as capacity building in order to be able to be involved or even implement their own projects.
The above-mentioned patterns can be observed in the more regional specific context of the European Union. The European Union region is selected, as it is considered a leading region of active introduction of renewable energy with comprehensive plans and targets.
4.4 Renewable energy introduction patterns in the European Union The European Commission following the adoption of the White paper for a Community strategy and Action Plan “Energy for the Future: Renewable Sources of Energy”51 has set an indicative objective of 12% for the contribution of the renewable sources of energy to the European Union’s gross inland energy consumption of 2010. The strategy set out in the White Paper contains a Campaign for Take Off (2000-2003) designed to facilitate the success of the strategy as a whole. For the implementation of this strategy, programs such as ALTENER 52 or SAVE
have being introduced based on the subsidiary principle. EU
has also promoted the creation of Regional Energy Agencies in the member countries to
European Commission White Paper “Energy for the Future: Renewable energy sources”, www.europe.eu Commission program for the promotion of renewable energy technology-www.europa.eu
SAVE-Commission program to promote energy management at the local level and develop renewable energy sources- www.europa.eu
facilitate the implementation of such programs. Funding depends on the kind of action submitted: 50% for pilot actions and dissemination activities up to 100% for studies. This has sparked the creation of several forums and partnerships between regions with similar interests. Under this framework, several Islands have already prepared local and regional plans and common projects. Forums and study groups such as INSULA54 or ISLENET Network 55 . A great interest is shown to one key sector namely: 100 communities aiming at 100% renewable energy sources supply 56, where some Islands have already being chosen to participate in. All these efforts have arguably created a favourable environment for the acceleration of renewable energy investment and utilisation. In the relatively small period that this programs have being introduced there has also being progress in creating more integrated strategies, including other socio-economic aspects such as tourism or desalination57 (two main features of islands).
INSULA-International Council for Island Development- www.insula.org
ISLENET Network- ISLENET is a Network of European Island Regions supported by the European Commission, whose principal task is to promote sustainable development in European Islands through the encouragement of improved energy and environmental management-www.europeanislands.net
European Commission White Paper. Extract from “100 Communities Aimed at 100% RES Supply”: “To optimise the available potential of renewable energy technologies requires them to be used together wherever this is productive either in integrated systems for local power supply or, on the other hand, in dispersed schemes for regional power supply. These obviously have to be adapted to the conditions of each specific location, so as to ensure reliable power supply to the required quality and continuity standards. As part of this campaign action, a number of pilot communities, regions, cities and islands will be selected from those which can reasonably aim at 100% RES power supply. These pioneer collectivities, in order to feature as credible pacemakers, should be of varying size and characteristics. On small scale, the units could be blocks of buildings, new neighbourhoods in residential areas, recreational areas, rural areas, or isolated ones such as islands or mountain communities. On a large scale, “solar cities” should be identified, as well as large rural areas, and administrative regions which can benefit from an existing sense of community. Large islands (e.g Sicily, Sardinia, Crete, Rodhes, Majorca, Canary Islands or Madeira) could also be used as pilot regions”
“Conference on Tourism, Renewable Energies and Water” INSULA, 2003
However, there is still need for easing of and integrating regulations concerning renewable energy as well as political will to change the favourable treatment that the centralised energy industry has. What is happening in reality, is that by becoming a single European market, the way has opened for the energy companies to merge and create an even larger and powerful industrial complex than it was before. This has as a result, the expansion of energy networks to a higher degree, which in effect, makes consumers become even more dependent to longer supply lines. An indicative example of this is the very active strategy and in effect policy of the EU to minimise its vulnerable dependency on oil from the Middle East, by importing large supplies of natural gas from the former Soviet Union countries. The long-term results of this policy switch however, are doomed to be close to zero. This is because, first, natural gas is still a pollutant resource, although less than burning oil, and its reserves at one point in time will finish. In other words, a great effort is made for an unsustainable source of energy, which pollutes the environment, is definite, and does not increase the energy self-sufficiency of the EU region as a whole. Second, a tremendous amount of EU, national, and private funding is made to build the pipeline networks that are needed to import the natural gas from the former Soviet countries. Such pipeline networks are already under construction for example, from Georgia passing through Turkey, Greece and Italy to supply natural gas in the southern part of the EU. Similarly, another one planned and some parts of it are being constructed that will bring natural gas to the northern part of the EU from Russia, passing through the northern Balkan countries that will become formal members of the EU this year. This kind of financial resources are spent to create a long supply network that does not increase the energy autonomy of the EU region, rather than being spent in areas that
increase the rational use of energy or its production from renewable energy sources locally. Furthermore, such interregional pipeline networks could only be created by forming alliances between the countries involved, which means between the powerful energy companies of the respective countries. This could potentially result in the creation of energy producing conglomerates that act in an interregional arena, thus creating again a centralised market, this time not nation, but regional. Such kind of policy does not have a great impact on the islands of the EU region, as it is not efficient to built the infrastructure to connect to this new network as they have limited demand. However, a closer look to the actions of Islands throughout the EU, while illustrating such barriers as political and institutional, also shows the danger of falling into the new system trap described in the 3.1 part of the paper. This is because, in most of the new projects put in use, have been completed with minimum or no participation of the community, in a top down manner, mainly with consultations between investors and the coordinating national energy agencies of the respective countries. Most notable is the way the investment process is carried on. The introduction of regulations obligating power companies to allow renewable energy producers to sell their electricity through the main grid has created a market for investors. However, there has been no provision or prior encouragement for communities to grab this opportunity, resulting in outside investment and benefits do not stay in the region where renewable energy sources electricity is produced. Furthermore, outside investors, adopt the business logic of high investment returns. As a result, the shape of electricity production infrastructure built is becoming
once again highly centralized. Falling again in this new system trap will make it even more difficult for the anticipated future autonomous energy system to come forward. Another shaping phenomenon is that much of the action is based on achievement of the targets set in the European Commissions’ Strategy and Action Plan. It progresses under the banner of Sustainable Development and gives the impression that by achieving these targets it makes the energy system also sustainable. In this context, most of the action is regrettably focussing in the sort to medium term forgetting the long-term vision. This reality creates the need, apart from further decentralisation efforts and broad public discussion on the control over energy distribution debate, for a long-term vision of the energy system to be incorporated in planning and policy making at all levels, with a preference to the regional and interregional level. In this way greater influence could be pressed on government or European Commission decision-making institutions. Also greatest public awareness should be pursuit. Outreach initiatives should be taken to raise awareness among the public as well as political decision-makers of the critical importance of renewable energy to sustainable development Furthermore, there is the urgent need for capacity building. Capacity building and training stressing the integral role of renewable energy should be encouraged at all levels. This includes, inter alias, training of relevance to policy development, operation and maintenance, management and project development 58.
Next, the observation of two indicative renewable energy introduction patterns on two islands of the European Union will be made.
Jensen, Lynge Thomas. Renewable Energy on islands. Forum for Energy and Development, 2000
4.5 An observation of two different renewable energy introduction patterns Crete Island Renewable energy in Greece has great potentials and it is currently on the rise. The government has established the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources59 (CRES) where it supervises almost all renewable energy projects. A small indication of the potential of renewable energy sources in Greece is an estimation, as well as, the announcement of a strategic plan by CRES to produce 15% of the country’s electricity needs only by wind farms. Greece produces and sells the quantity of solar thermal collectors as the other countries of the European Community (fig.4.3.1) altogether (mainly internal consumption) and 20% of the households use solar water heaters, signifying its very high annual solar radiation 60 (average-1.680kwh/sqm-double that of the UK). There have been more than 1288 applications (from companies only) to receive permit for RE production (wind, small hydro, PV, Biomass, Geothermal) until 1/2/2003 and nearly 500 are in operation at present 61.
400000 300000 200000 100000 0 All EU Countries EU except Greece Annual Production in Greece only
One of the main reasons that Greece’s development of renewable energy is on the rise can be found in its unique geographic situation. 20% of its territory is comprised of islands (over 120 inhabited) that cannot be linked into the national grid. That makes renewable
59 60 61
Centre for Renewable Energy Sources, www.cres.gr “Overview of the solar collectors market”, www.europa.int RAE, Greek Energy Regulating Authority, “Overview of RES in Greece”, Feb.2003
energy a viable alternative form of energy in order to cover the fluctuations in energy demand during the summer season as there is a sharp increase in tourist visitors in the islands, as well as it does not require the import of fossil fuels. Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean with a population of 540.000 and important tourism and servise sector (2.5million tourists in 1994), and is considered one of the most promising islands in Europe for the introduction of renewable energy in a large scale. The last 3 years with the liberillisation of the energy market and improvement of the legislative framework, there has been a large number of interest, as well as invesments on renewable energy projects (up untill Feb.2003, 33 projects got the licence for construction) and admitedly a great movement on the rize can be identified. According to a comprehensive study conducted by the Regional Energy Agency of Crete62 the potential of the island for the development of renewable energy can be found in: -The total dependence of the island’s autonomous energy system on fuel imports. -The availability of a rich and largely under-exploited renewable energy sources potential (highest solar radiation (fig. 4.3.2) in Europe, annual average wind speed exceeds 7m/s in many locations) fig. 4.3.2 Average Annual Energy Production/sqm of solar collectors in Greece. -Strong seasonal variations in energy demand, due to the tourism. -High investment interest related to renewable energy sources (foreign mainly) KWh/sqm/N.Greec C.Greec Crete Year e Households350 Tertiary Industry 400 450 e 400 450 500
450 500 550
“Implementation Plan for the large scale development of RES in Crete”, 1999 see bibliography
-A special island environment
and an importand tourism and servise sector whose
development is in direct conflict with any additional burden on the environment posed by an increase in fossil fuel use. -Positive attitude of the public towards renewable energy sources exploitation. -The maturity of several renewable energy technologies. -The contribution that such an activity will have to local development. -The new legislative framework. -Existence of Department of electric and electronic engineering of Technical University (Basis for future renewable energy experts)* -Existence of Cretan thermal collector copmanies assosiation with long experience and insulation data. (Possible agents for technology transfer)* -Fifth higher purchasing power in Greece. As a result fair level of new technology accumulation.63* The results of the Implementation Plan for RES (Renewable Energy Sources) in Crete, which was formulated on the basis of the available RES potential, the technical constrains for the RES penetration and the existing legislative framework, was that it is economically feasible to cover 100% of the new-after 1998-electricity demand by 2010. In more detail, it concluded that with the realisation of the Implementation Plan the contribution of RES will reach 39.4% of the total annual electricity demand of the island by 2005 and 45.5% by 2010. In addition hot water solar heater utilisation will contribute to reduce the electricity demand by apprx.10% by 2010.
* Author’s addition
This realistic plan is already in progress and its targets are thought to be achieved or even surpassed. However, once the undergoing projects have being analised it was found that centralised, top-down implementation patterns are followed. From the 33 undergone investment initiatives, only 5 have been made by local developmental organisations producing approximatelly 21MW of the total 133,66MW producing capacity 64. The remaining projects are undertaken by foreign companies and strategic partnerships with companies from mainland Greece. Here again, the rapid change of the regulationary framework of the energy market, left no time for the local authorities and communities to built the demanded local capacity in order to create the foundations to be able to initiate such projects in their locality and earn the socio-economic benefits from a more community oriented application. Such accellerated project implementation, with the basic driving force of profit making, by selling energy to the regional energy company, could end up in a system trap where large centralised projects are not trully intergrated in the regional context or concidering the various parameters of the regional energy system as a whole. When there is so much potential for RES exploitation in the region, realised by agents outside the region and not yet by the locals, it creates an unequal situation where the agents with direct contact and interests in the concerned region fall behind the whole current trend and concequently losing their ability and right to decide of what their future energy system should be. The island of Crete could be turned in the future into a model region where energy production and consumption could be sustainable, democratic-meaning a common
RAE, Greek Energy Regulating Authority, “Overview of RES in Greece”, Feb.2003
resource being shared amongst the members of the community-with a clean environment and formidable quality of life. We believe that it is of equal importance for the debate over what the future energy system should be, to go hand in hand with the current developments, involving all members of the community into decision-making, and achieving a consensus on what character a sustainable energy system should have, bringing social equity and qualitative wealth to the region.
The above example is indicative of the renewable energy introduction patterns on islands in member countries where the interest for renewable energy has been accelerated in the recent years. However, in the case of the Samsoe island in Denmark a different approach can be observed, mainly because research and policy making in renewable energy has been going on for a long time.
Samsoe island of Denmark The Danish government policyon renewable energy has been very dynamic after the oil crisis in the 70s. As a result, it is the leading export market of the windturbine industry in the world, made possible after subsidising the investment on the wind industry over a decade. The success of this policy is because it was based in the principle that governmental bodies inspire, provoke,listen to, and support a broad diversity of renewable energy activity all over the society, ranging from grassroots, research and
technical institutes, consultants, manufacturers and local communities and vice-versa65 . Such policy for example, has resulted in private people owning more than 80% of all wind turbines constructed in Denmark. In the case of Samsoe island the same approach is taken. Samsoe island has been selected from the Danish government to become a 100% renewable energy islandincluding transport energy. The island is more or less virgin as to renewables, but with a population of approximately 4400 people, it would be relatively easy to become 100% renewable sufficient with a large centralised plan from the national government. However, as Iben Ostergaard of the Danish energy centre said in his presentation “The Danish Energy Way” for the Islands Solar Summit in Tenerife, 1999: “Being chosen, as a renewable energy island does not mean that the energy agency/government, decides and pays everything and-here you are: A renewable energy island! No, without the contribution of the population, there will be no renewable island. There will be local involvement in all the projects for instance local workshops have being set up in the district heating areas. Working groups use their influence on the projects concerning ownership. Also in relation to wind turbines, citizens meeting are being held concerning ownership, visual impact on offshore wind farms, etc.” This kind of approach, of self-grown renewable societies is a promising way in introducing renewable energy with high propability of system trap avoidance and at the same time ripping most of the socio-economic benefits that renewable energy has to offer to the locality.
Island Solar Summit, 1999. see bibliography
The above observation of the introduction patterns in these two islands is not a comparison between them. It is just an indicative reference on how different implementation patterns of renewable energy projects could possibly affect the ability of islands to increase their capacities in order to avoid falling into new system traps and at the same time increase their sustainability through an increase of their endogenous capacity. Factors, such as their differing population size, energy demand, and climate are not being considered here. In the case of the Island of Crete for example, the large number of renewable projects implemented by external investment, that is the case at present does not necessarily mean that will have negative effects in the future for the ability of the island to become more sustainable and energy efficient. Similarly, in the case of Samsoe Island of Denmark that is presented as a favorable approach for introducing renewables, does not necessarily mean that it will succeed in the future. As the history of such implementation projects in islands on general is very short, it is recognized that more time is needed to become able to draw conclusions of the socio-economic effects of renewable energies. Therefore, with such observation only premature assumptions can be made. The purpose of this kind of assumptions is to attempt to discover new areas of consideration in advance.
Conclusion In this paper it was argued that in order for islands to become sustainable, the introduction of renewable energy is required. Such introduction, should be integrated and follow the principles of the strategy of building endogenous capacity. In this way, the
newly identified system traps could either be avoided, or their negative effects could be limited. This kind of approach has reciprocal results, as it both facilitates the smooth transition from the conventional energy system to a renewable energy system the smooth introduction of newly developed energy technologies to an already established renewable energy system, as well as facilitating island communities to follow a more locally oriented developmental path, thus increasing their sustainability. It is recognized that this kind of analysis cannot play the role of a concrete theoretical model that can be applied anywhere, as it has not included a variety of factors, such as the different economic realities, population size, cultures, geographic positions, and climate conditions of islands. Therefore, it cannot be argued that the expected results of the proposed arguments in this paper would be the same for each island. It is recognized for example, that the priority needs for a particular island can be of a more urgent nature, such as the difficulty for its population to maintain secure food and water supplies. In this case, although the introduction of renewable energy could play a facilitating role in solving such problem in the long term, the urgency aspect of this matter could be argued that it requires more drastic measures. Furthermore, the actual history of renewables introduction in islands is still short in order to draw any concrete conclusions on the accuracy and the utility of the assumptions made. This would require more time, in order for such renewable energy systems to mature in order to be able to make any conclusions on their impact in islands development process. It is also needed to make a more detailed analysis on a specific island, including factors, such as its specific size, socio-economic status, culture, and
climatic conditions. This would require a multidisciplinary examination of all these parameters. By doing this, it is believed that answers could be provided for present problems and future planning that could not have being made in the prevailing planning and decision-making structures. In the case of the newly identified system traps in this paper, it is believed that further examination of their impacts in relation to human systems transformations, as well as whether they could be integrated in such complex evolution theories as human systems transformations, is needed. Furthermore, a more detailed analysis is needed on the nature and characteristics that such system traps could have and whether they should be separated and be treated as different entities. Considering the above, the analysis of this paper was mainly focused on the medium to long-term aspects of the developmental process of islands. The findings from the analysis in this report, it is believed could only be used as an indication of the possibilities and limitations that a renewable energy system would present in the long-term, or even, as a tool for increasing the predictability capacity in the planning process for future renewable energy systems and their effects in the sustainable development path for islands. Increased predictability capacities in the planning and decision-making processes is an essentiality for islands, as their financial and institutional capabilities are limited, thus requiring the error margin of any decision made to be minimal. In this context, creating societal structures that are flexible and at the same time able to a certain degree to predict long-term necessities, qualifies as a prerequisite in delivering sustainability.
Bibliography Barton, Hugh. Sustainable Communities: The potential for Eco-Neighborhoods, Earthscan, 2000 Capello, R., Nijkamp. P. Sustainable Cities and Energy Policies. Springer-Verlag, 1999 Chambers, Ann. Distributed Generation: A non technical guide. Tulsa, OK: Penn Well, 2001 Cleaner Planet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001 Dunn, Seth. “Hydrogen Futures: Toward a Sustainable Energy System.” Worldwatch Paper 157. Worldwatch Institute, August 2001 Dunn, Seth. “Micropower: The next Electrical Era.” Worldwatch Paper 151. Worldwatch Institute, July 2000
European Renewable Energy Council (EREC)/International Council for Island Development (INSULA). “Renewable energy sources for islands, tourism and water desalination”, conference proceedings. Chania-Crete, 2003. www.erec-renewables.org Energy Resources Development. Sustainable Energy Future. United Nations, 2002 Expert Group on the Urban Environment. “European Sustainable Cities Report”, European Commission-Directorate General XI, 1996 Geller, Howard. Energy Revolution: Policies for a Sustainable Future. Island Press, 2003 Gunderson H. Lance, Holling. S. C. “Panarchy: Understanding transformations in human and natural systems”. Island Press, 2002 Hawken, Paul, Amory Lovins. Natural Capitalism: Creating the next Industrial Revolution. Boston: Little, brown and Company,1999 Hofmann, Peter. Tomorrow’s Energy: Hydrogen, Fuell Cells, and the Prospect for a Hubbard, Alice. Community Energy Workbook. Rocky Mountain Institute, 1995 Island Solar Summit Proceedings. “Building the future for islands: Sustainable energies”. Tenerife, 1999, www.insula.org/solar Jensen, Lynge Thomas. Renewable Energy on islands. Forum for Energy and Development, 2000 Miyamoto Kenichi. Ecological Economics. Iwanami Publications, 1989 Monsonet-Aguado, Miquel. The socio-economic impact of renewable energy projects in southern Mediterranean countries. Institute for prospective technological studies, 1997 Muehlinghaus, Sabine/Waelty, Samuel. “Endogenous development and local initiatives in mountainous Communities in Switzerland”, University of Zurich, 2001 RAE, Greek Energy Regulating Authority, “Overview of RES in Greece”, Feb.2003
Rifkin, Jeremy. The Hydrogen Economy. Polity Press, 2002 Scheer, Herman. The Solar Economy. Earthscan, 1999 Siblerud, Robert. Our Future is Hydrogen: Energy, Environment and Economy. New Science Publications, 2001 Wackernagel, Mathis and Rees, William. Our Ecological Footprint. New Society Publishers, 1996 Zervos, Arthouros. “Implementation plan for the large scale deployment of renewable energy sources in Crete”. National Technical University of Athens/Regional energy Agency of Crete, 1998
Source: ECOTEC Research and Consulting Limited, “Renewable energy sector in the EU: its employment and export potential”, 1999
Impacts of RE on employment at EU level A study carried out during 1998-9 for DG XVII (Energy) of the European Commission aimed to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of renewable energy deployment on employment from the present day to 2020. Key findings from the study were as follows:
Energy produced from renewable sources is predicted to increase by a factor of about 2.4, from a base of 440 TWh in 1995 to 1,066 TWh by 2020. The modelling predicts increases in the capacity and output of all the renewable energy technologies studied, and in all Member States. These predictions also represent an increase in the overall proportion of final energy consumption in the EU provided by renewables9 from 4.3% in 1995 to 8.2% by 2020. The modelling predictions estimate that this increase in energy provided from renewable sources can result in the creation of over 900,000 new jobs by 2020. 385,000 jobs are predicted to be created by 2020 from provision of renewable energy, and a further 515,000 jobs from biomass fuel production. This increase takes account of the direct, indirect and subsidy effects on employment, and jobs displaced in conventional energy technologies. Jobs gains are greatest from biomass technologies - both in the biomass energy industry and in fuel supply - however all technologies show long-term net job creation. Renewable energy technologies are in general more labour intensive than conventional energy technologies, in delivering the same amount of energy output. Jobs displaced as a result of subsidies to support renewable energy deployment are significantly less than corresponding job gains (both direct and indirect impacts) elsewhere in the economy. Job gains are greatest in the agriculture and manufacturing industrial sectors. The conventional energy supply industry is predicted to lose less than 2% of its work force by 2020 as a consequence of the shift to a greater use of energy from renewable sources.
All technologies generate a net increase in jobs during the construction phase. For some technologies however there are net employment losses during the operational phase. Employment creation occurs in all Member States. Germany, France and Italy have the greatest absolute employment increases, whilst Denmark, Greece and Austria achieve the highest proportional increase relative to the size of their labour force. The results from the study are of practical benefit to many different groups, including policy makers, the renewable energy industry, regional and local authorities, investors, and will help raise general awareness about the employment benefits from renewable energy technologies. This net employment increase occurs because: renewable energy production is more labour intensive than conventional energy production, in delivering the same amount of energy output; renewable energy production uses less imported goods and services, especially during the operational phase, and therefore results in a slightly higher multiplier effect; the analysis has assumed that expansion of biological fuel sources occurs without displacing employment in conventional agriculture and forestry 10. To an extent, and more so in the earlier years, subsidies are required to enable renewables to compete in the market with conventional energy sources. However, even when allowance is made for jobs that would have been created from alternate deployment of these subsidies (consumers buying other goods, governments investing in alternative public services) renewables were still found to generate net jobs relative to conventional energy sources they displace. Principal opportunities for employment
Opportunities for employment from the renewable energy sector occur in a wide range of areas: Manufacturing - design and fabrication, component manufacture and supply, assembly, refurbishment Project development - a wide range of sectors contribute to the development of a RE project, including planners, surveyors, financiers, insurance, project design and developers, architects, etc. Construction and installation of the plant includes site operations, electrical and mechanical engineering, fabrications, etc. Operation and maintenance of the plant requires a range of specialist and non-specialist skills, including management, servicing, fuel collection and supply (for biomass plant).
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