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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 59 (2016) 504513

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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/rser

A review of renewable energy utilization in islands


Yonghong Kuang a,b, Yongjun Zhang c, Bin Zhou a,n, Canbing Li a,n, Yijia Cao a, Lijuan Li a,
Long Zeng a
a

College of Electrical and Information Engineering, Hunan University, Changsha 410082, China
Hunan Institute of Engineering, Xiangtan 411104, China
c
School of Electric Power, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, China
b

art ic l e i nf o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 19 November 2014
Received in revised form
17 September 2015
Accepted 2 January 2016

With the surge in the fossil fuel prices and increasing environmental concerns, signicant efforts have been
made to propel and develop alternative energy technologies to cope with the energy shortage for island
power grids. Recent advancements and developments on power electronic technologies have enabled the
renewable energy sources to be grid-connected with gradually higher penetration in island electricity supply.
Consequently, the utilization and efciency of renewable energy resources in islands has received remarkable
attention from both the academia and industry. In this paper, a brief overview on the current status of island
energy resources is described. Then, the existing utilization status and development potential of various
renewable generations for island power grids, including solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, ocean and geothermal energy, are investigated. Furthermore, the advanced technologies to improve the penetration level of
island renewables, including energy storage techniques, hybrid renewable energy system, microgrid, demand
side management, distributed generation and smart grid, are presented.
& 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Island power
Microgrid
Renewable energy
Grid integration
Energy storage

Contents
1.
2.
3.

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Present situation of energy supply in islands. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Development status and potential of renewable energy in islands. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.1.
Solar energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2.
Wind energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.3.
Hydropower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.4.
Biomass energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.5.
Geothermal energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.6.
Ocean energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4. Strategies to improve the grid-integration of renewable energy in islands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.1.
Energy storage techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2.
Hybrid renewable energy system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.3.
Microgrid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.4.
Demand-side management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.5.
Distributed generation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.6.
Smart grid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Corresponding authors. Tel.: 86 731 8388 9677; fax: 86 731 88664197.


E-mail addresses: binzhou@hnu.edu.cn (B. Zhou), licangbing@qq.com (C. Li).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2016.01.014
1364-0321/& 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Y. Kuang et al. / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 59 (2016) 504513

1. Introduction
There are more than 50 thousand islands on the earth with a
total area of over one sixth of global land area [1]. More than 740
million people inhabited in islands according to geographic
information system (GIS) analysis [2]. Electricity supply is an
important issue in islands, and the most island power systems
mainly rely on the imported fossil fuels [3,4]. However, the oil
price in islands is 34 times higher than that in the mainland [5,6],
and the island economy may be vulnerable due to oil price uctuations. Some researches indicate that the gross domestic products (GDP) of Pacic Islands will be reduced by 1.5% due to tendollar hike for one barrel [7]. In recent years, the demand of
energy continues to increase in islands, at an annual growth rate of
1.7% in Caribbean islands from 1970 to 2009 [8]. The oil price, with
an annual growth rate of 5% over the past two decades, would
grow at an annual average rate of 3% in the next 20 years [9].
Consequently, some measures should be taken to deal with energy
shortage and reduce the dependence on imported fossil fuels in
islands.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission causes global warming. CO2 is
the primary contributor of GHG, and fossil fuel combustion
accounts for 90% of the CO2 emission [10,11]. Islands are the biggest victims of global warming, especially for these low elevation
islands and coastal zones. According to the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates, sea level has risen eight
inches since 1870 [12]. Eleven islands including Maldives, Solomon
Island and Tuvalu, are facing the crisis of being submerged [13].
Meanwhile, global warming causes the destruction of ecosystems
and frequent extreme weather in islands, including hurricanes,
storms, oods and other cases [14,15]. Therefore, the utilization of
renewable energy is of great signicance for island power grids.
Although islands are faced with severe energy security,
renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar, hydropower and
biomass, are abundant to explore opportunities for power conversion [7,16]. Normally, each island is blessed with more than one
renewable energy source for electricity utilization. Also, 100% of
electricity consumption from renewable energy has even been
achieved in some islands [17]. The European Island Union has
established island demonstration projects to prove that energy
supply in islands could rely on indigenous renewable energy
sources [18].
With the recent rapid development of sustainable energy
technologies and increasing demand for low-emission generation,
the utilization of renewable energy shows promising prospects for
island power grids. From the technical and economic aspects, it is
quite feasible to substitute fossil fuels with renewable energy for
island power supply [17]. At the same time, microgrid technologies
provide a exible integrated platform for the development of
renewable energy, in which distributed energy could be gridconnected with high penetration. Based on the electricity demand,
topographic position and renewable energy distribution, it is suitable for islands to implement microgrid [9,19]. Meanwhile, with
further development of smart grid technologies including communication, monitoring, control, and self-healing, the island
energy utilization to accommodate multiplying renewable energy
resources has been improved [20]. Hence, the ongoing development of power electronic technologies will further propel the
utilization of renewable energy in islands.
The objective of this paper is to give a comprehensive review of
renewable energy utilization in islands. First, a brief overview on
the current status of island energy supply systems is presented.
Then, the development status and potential of renewable energy
including solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, geothermal and ocean
energy are summarized. Third, the approaches to enhance the
penetration of renewable energy in islands are provided, including

505

energy storage, hybrid renewable energy system, microgrid,


demand side management, distributed generation and smart grid.
Lastly, the conclusion is drawn.

2. Present situation of energy supply in islands


In islands, due to the isolation, small area and remoteness, the
traditional energy resources are limited. For the majority of islands
in the world, the imported fuel is still the main energy sources of
the power supply [21]. For instance, in Caribbean islands, 90% of
the energy demand relies on imported fossil fuels. In addition, fuel
imports bills occupy up to 20% of annual import costs in majority
of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) [22]. Some islands spend
more than 30% of GDP on fuel imports. Thus, the energy cost is a
great burden for islands. So far, 130 million people worldwide, one
fth of the world's population, have no access to electricity [23],
and a large number of islands, particularly the small and mediumsize islands, are typical areas with low electricity coverage. For
instance, 70% of households in the Pacic Islands have yet no
electricity, with 96% of rural residents in Solomon Island
depending on traditional fuels for lighting [24].
There is usually no grid connection between islands and
mainland, and even between adjacent islands due to high costs of
submarine transmission cables. Therefore, the island power supply
is not stable and reliable, especially under the frequent extreme
weather conditions. Furthermore, most rural areas in the islands
are not always covered by power supply networks. Consequently,
the distributed diesel generators are often utilized for a few hours
at night. Once the fuels are in short supply, the power supply will
be affected and even interrupted.
Owing to the deteriorative situation of energy security and
shortage, people inhabited in islands have been seeking for new
energy substitutes. Thus, utilization of renewable energy has been
put on the agenda [7]. Every year SIDS will convene meetings to
draw up plans and share experiences [25]. Besides, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has established Global
Renewable Energy Island Network (GREIN) to provide a platform
of exchange and cooperation for islands' renewable energy
development. More than 60 European islands signed the Pact of
Islands to achieve European Union (EU) sustainability targets for
the year 2020 [26]. Moreover, Samsoe in the Baltic Sea, Canary
Island in the North Atlantic, Reunion in the Indian Ocean,
Hawaiian Island in the Pacic and Guadeloupe Island in the Caribbean islands have made use of renewable energy to a large
extent.
So far, the dominated renewable energy resources used in
islands are biomass energy, hydropower, wind and solar energy,
and electricity generation is the main form of renewable energy
utilization. Table 1 shows the current renewable energy utilization
status in the selected islands across the world. It can be found that
the proportion of renewable generations in the total electricity
generation varies from 0% to 100% in different islands, which is
59.3% in Fiji, and lower than 10% in most of islands, even close to
zero [21]. In Pellworm, a representative developed island, the
electricity consumption per capita is 20,457 kWh and renewable
energy generation accounts for 65.93% of the total electricity
generation [17]. This is much higher than the world average level
of 22.1% in 2013 [31]. Crete is a representative island devoted to
the development of renewable energy. However, there is almost
no renewable energy utilization in most of islands except for traditional biomass energy, such as Tuvalu in the undeveloped
islands. Up to now, most islands over the world have released the
development targets of renewable energy.

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Y. Kuang et al. / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 59 (2016) 504513

Table 1
Electricity production from renewable energy in selected islands.
Island

Total percentage of electricity


production from renewable
energy (%)

Main type of renewable energy

Renewable energy plan/target


(percentage of total power)

Electricity consumption
per capita (kWh)

Region

Data sources

Samsoe
Pellworm
Fiji
Reunion

100
64.95
59.3
31.2

100% (present)
100% (present)
90% (2015)
100% (2030)

\
20,457
946.8
3382

The
The
The
The

Atlantic Ocean
North Atlantic
South Pacic
Indian Ocean

[17]
[17]
[27,28]
[17,28,29]

Crete
Cape Verde
Cyprus
Tuvalu
Barbados

26
21
2.8
2
0.0

Wind
Wind, Solar
Wind, Hydropower
Hydropower, Biomass,
Ocean
Wind, Solar, Biomass
Wind, Biomass
Wind, Solar
Wind, Solar
Solar

50% (2020)
50% (2020)
16% (2020)
100% (2020)
29% (2019)

3806
595
4081
489
3491

The
The
The
The
The

Mediterranean
Indian Ocean
Mediterranean
South Pacic
Caribbean

[17,30]
[28,31]
[28,32]
[33]
[28,34]

Table 2
Solar thermal utilization in selected islands.
Island
Reunion
Barbados
Cyprus

Collector area (m2)


410,664
219,690
700,947

Capacity of solar collectors


2

502.6 m /1000
319 kWth/1000
425 kWth/1000

Intensity of solar radiation

Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions (tons/annual)

Data sources

14002900 h/y
6.1 kW h/m2/day
1900 kW h/m2/y

314,904
38,869
216,475

[28,41]
[31,37,39]
[31,38,39]

3. Development status and potential of renewable energy in


islands
There are abundant renewable energy resources in islands, and
the utilization of renewable energy is different for each island. In
this section, the typical islands are selected and surveyed to
investigate their utilization status of renewable energy, based on
the available literatures and reports. Here, the exploitation
potential of renewable energy refers to the maximum utilization
estimates instead of economic efciency.
3.1. Solar energy
The sun emits energy at a rate of 3.8  1023 kW per second, and
the solar radiation reaching the earth's surface in a year is
approximate to 3,400,000 EJ which is 7,500 times the world's total
annual primary energy consumption of 450 EJ [35]. Generally,
there are two forms of solar energy utilization: solar thermal and
solar photovoltaic (PV). From 1990 to 2013, the solar thermal and
solar PV grew at a rate of 11.6% and 45.5% per annum, respectively
[36]. Furthermore, up until 2013, the global solar power generation was 106.4 TW h and the total installed capacity had reached
139 GW [36].
The average radiation in islands around the equatorial region is
more than 4.5 kW h/m2/day [27]. Hence, solar energy can be utilized to various aspects including solar water heater (SWH), solar
PV, solar drying and solar cooling, etc. Due to easy installation and
low costs, the SWH is widely used in islands, especially suited for
hotels and families. Hot water heated by the solar energy can be
used for showering, cooking and washing. In order to improve the
popularity of SWH and reduce electricity consumption in some
islands, legislations have been enacted to install SWH on each new
building. Besides, more electricity bills are charged for households
who use electricity to heat water [37].
Cyprus is the global leader of SWH usage, in which 92% of
families and 53% of hotels are equipped with SWH systems [32]. It
has been reported that every ve people is equipped with a SWH
[38] and the cumulated unglazed/glazed water collector capacity
in operation was 425 kWth/1000 inhabitants in 2013 [39], which
was the second highest in the world. On the other hand, SWHs in
Barbados were commercialized since the 1970s and its average

installed capacity reached 319 kWth/1000 inhabitants in 2013,


which was much higher than the average value of 48.9 kWth/1000
inhabitants in the Caribbean islands [39]. Moreover, 40% of
families and 50% of hotels use SWH to heat water [40], which can
conserve 15% of electricity consumption [37]. In Reunion, SWH
was initially utilized in the early 1990s, and the total area of solar
collectors covered 410,664 m2 in 2009 and 1181.4 GW h of electricity was saved annually [41]. The total collector area and collector installations of unglazed and glazed water collectors in
selected islands are shown in Table 2.
Though the SWH has great application potential, its popularity
is still fairly low in many islands. For example, although 200 SWHs
have been installed in the 90s in Tuvalu, SWHs fail to prevail due
to lack of maintenance and unsatisfactory benets. It can be found
that the reasons causing the slow development of SWHs include
the costs, the residents' acceptance, the support of government
and other aspects.
Installed capacity of solar PV system is exible, ranging from a
few watts to hundreds of megawatts. Solar PV systems can be
installed readily almost anywhere where there is sunshine, and
low operation costs are more economically competitive compared
to decentralized diesel generators. Consequently, the solar PV
systems in islands have been applied to schools, households and
communities, especially in the remote areas. In Pellworm, the
installed capacity of solar PV reaches 600 kW, which can produce
225 MW h of electricity and accounts for 0.9% of the total power
generation [17]. In Crete, although the potential of solar PV reaches
16.5 GW h per year, the actual installed capacity and annual electricity generation are only 0.67 MW and 0.17 GW h respectively
[42]. Reunion is committed to develop solar PV generations, and
its installed capacity has increased exponentially in recent years.
Hence, there is not only the large-scale PV power plant, but also
the domestic PV system installed on the building roof with the
capacity of less than 1 kW. In 2010, the installed capacity in
Reunion nearly amounted to 80 MW and the total electricity
generation to 60 GW h [41].
In the early stages of solar PV systems, high investment is
needed and the PV systems may be damaged by extreme climate
events. Therefore, although many islands enjoy abundant natural
resources to develop PV generation, there is little and even no
development in the electricity generation from solar energy in a

Y. Kuang et al. / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 59 (2016) 504513

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Table 3
Status of renewable energy technologies: characteristics and costs [31].
Type of electricity
generation
technology

Hydropower: grid- Hydropower: offbased


grid/rural

Solar PV:
ground-mounted
utility-scale

Solar PV:
rooftop

Solar thermal:
domestic hot
water systems

Geothermal
power

Wind:
onshore

Wind: Smallscale turbine

Plant size

118,000 MW

0.11000 kW

2.5250 MW

11756000

12001950

19005500

1.5
3.5 MW
9251950

o 100 kW

7504000

710 kWth (single


family)
1472200

1100 MW

Capital costs
($/kW)
Typical energy
costs (cent/kWh)

35 kW
(residential)
21507000

223

540

940 (nonOECD)

2855 (nonOECD)

1.528 (China)

419

416

Table 4
Potential and existing utilization of wind energy in selected islands.
Island

Wind
speed
(m/s)

Current
installed
capacity
(MW)

Electricity
potential
(GWh)

Existing elec- Data sources


tricity generation
(GWh)

Crete
Samsoe

10.1
6.57.5

134.75
33

900
/

0
26
5.7

20
/
91.5

336.7
100% Power
supply
0
8.33
15.136

Barbados
6.6
Cape Verde 5.75
Pellworm
5.55

[47,48]
[18,49]
[50,51]
[17,52,53]
[17,54,55,56]

majority of islands [37]. In addition, there are demonstration


projects for solar utilization and it is far from industrialization.
Table 3 lists the detailed capital costs of renewable energy generation. It can be seen that the levelized costs of electricity (LCOE)
of solar PV systems is 21007000 $/kW, which is relatively high
among different renewable energy generations.
3.2. Wind energy
Wind energy, the most common and promising renewable
energy resource nowadays, is very rich in most islands. The average wind speed is 310 m/s, with a maximum of 4050 m/s [6].
According to incomplete statistics, more than 50% islands have
achieved wind power generation, and 55.4% of electricity produced by renewable energy comes from wind power [6].
In Samsoe, the electricity supply mainly relies on wind power
[17], and the existing eleven wind power plants in this island can
produce 11 MW power output to balance the residential electricity
demand. Meanwhile, the residual electricity can be sold to mainland, reducing 15000 t of GHG emission every year [18]. In Crete,
the wind power has also been extensively used, and the installed
capacity of wind power reached 166 MW in 2009 [43]. Moreover,
the electricity generation from wind power reached 336.7 GW h
per annum [44]. In 2012, the Greek government approved two
new wind power projects with capacity of more than 2000 MW
[45]. In Reunion, the wind utilization potential can reach 60 MW,
and two wind power plants with a total installed capacity of
14.7 MW started to operate in 2006 [41]. Also, the electricity
generation from these wind power plants was 15.5 MW h in 2009
[41]. Similarly, the largest average wind speed in Cape Verde has
exceeded 12 m/s [46], and 8330 MW h of electricity was generated
from wind energy in 2008, accounting for 10% of the total electricity generation [17]. Also, the largest wind power plant with 30
wind turbines has been launched in Cape Verde and the total
installed capacity reached 25.5 MW in 2011. In some islands like
Barbados, wind energy is abundant while the current electricity
generation is quite scarce [34].
In many islands, the development and utilization of wind
power is still in the early assessment and monitoring stages [33].

6040 (United
States)
1520 (USA)

Table 4 tabulates the available potential and current utilization of


wind energy in selected islands. It can be found that the utilization
of wind energy is quite different among islands. Furthermore,
islands are confronted with a series of problems in the exploitation
process of wind power. The land ownership of wind power plants
is one of the most prominent problems, and hence numerous
projects have been halted or delayed [33]. In addition, the location
selection and accurate assessment of wind power potential are
also the challenges in wind energy utilization.
3.3. Hydropower
Hydropower, as a clean energy resource with almost no emission of GHG, has received the rst-degree utilization and development across the world. In 2013, hydropower accounted for
16.4% of electricity, and the total installed capacity was 1000 GW
with 3750 TW h of electricity generation [31]. It is also an important renewable energy source in islands, especially for mountainous region with abundant rainfall and storage reservoir. In Caribbean islands, hydropower accounts for 89% of installed renewable energy capacity [8]. In recent years, the medium (25
250 MW) and small (o25 MW) hydropower projects have been
implemented to develop the clean hydro energy in islands [57].
In Fiji, the electricity generation from hydropower reached
460 GW h in 2009. Meanwhile, the Nadarivatu Renewable Hydro
Power Station with installed capacity of 40 MW can generate
110,000 GW h and reduce 66,000 t CO2 emission per year [27],
while Reunion also totally depended on hydropower to provide
electricity in 1982. However, with the development of economy
and other alternative energy, the proportion of hydropower in
island power systems has declined recently. Hence, the hydropower with 632 GW h of electricity and 121 MW installed capacity
only accounted for a quarter of the total electricity generation in
Reunion in 2008 [41].
In rural areas of islands with low electricity demand and
scattered population, many small and micro hydropower plants
are utilized to supply the electricity for dispersive consumers.
Although the initial capital costs of these projects are high, their
operation and maintenance costs are low [31]. Moreover, the
generation output of hydropower can be controlled exibly and
rapidly in a large range, and thus can accommodate the power
uctuation from other renewable energy. In the remote island
rural areas, local electricity generation and consumption can avoid
long-distance transmission losses and oil-dependent energy supply. Therefore, a variety of small hydropower stations are under
plan and construction in these regions, and most of them are
small-scale hydropower projects, micro-hydro projects and ultramicro-hydro projects, ranging from a couple of kilowatts to up to
tens of megawatts [57]. Table 5 shows the situation of small hydro
power (SHP) development in selected Pacic Islands.
Pumped storage hydropower is developed rapidly over the
years in the world. Pumped hydro storage (PHS), with large storage capacity, is the most common energy storage method at

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Table 5
Situation of SHP development in selected Pacic Islands [57].
Island

Total percentage of electricity production from hydropower (%)

SHP potential installed


capacity (MW)

SHP installed capacity (MW)

Annual SHP potential (GWh)

Barriers to SHP development

Fiji
Polynesia
Samoa

48.0
38.25
28

14.7
65
22

10.0
47
11.9

1089
300
/

New Caledonia

12.4

9.4

27.1

300

11

0.298

Lack of funding
Absent of native experts
Lack of incentives for investment in the
electricity market
Excessive dependence on external
assistance
Lack of systematic hydrological surveys

Solomon Islands 0.7

present. In 2013, global pumped storage capacity increased by


2 GW and the cumulative installed capacity reached about 140 GW
[31]. PHS is also a solution to maintain a steady electricity supply
for islands and improve the penetration level of renewable energy
integrated into power grids. The power output of PHS stations can
be regulated rapidly, exibly and reliably to accommodate the
volatile and stochastic power from other renewable energy. Thus,
PHS can be employed for peak shaving and frequency regulation in
islands to improve the utilization of renewable energy. Nevertheless, the development of hydropower is fairly difcult for
islands with unfavorable geography, such as Cape Verde, Samsoe
and Tuvalu.

bio-fuels to replace diesel in electricity generation and transportation. In Tonga and Solomon Islands, full exploitation of coconut
oil can offset half of annual diesel imports [58,59]. In addition,
compared to the imported fuels, the coconut oil not only has the
price superiority in that the diesel price is $ 0.8/L while coconut oil
price is $ 0.3/L [60], but also is free from import restrictions. Thus,
the coconut oil can reduce the inuence of oil price uctuations on
islands and also improve the energy security. With various material sources and utilization forms, the biomass energy enjoys a
promising development.

3.4. Biomass energy

Geothermal energy refers to the heat from the depths of the


earth, which usually exists in volcanic areas. It is an effective
renewable energy resource which is not intermittent. There are
two forms of geothermal energy utilization: geothermal heating
and geothermal generation. Over the years, the geothermal generation has undergone a rapid development in the world. The
average annual growth rate in cumulative capacity was 3% from
2010 to 2012 and reached 4% in 2013 [31]. Thus, the total installed
capacity and electricity generation reached 12,000 MW and
76,000 GW h respectively in 2013 [31], and the former is estimated
to increase to 19,800 MW in 2015 [61].
Many islands are in the plate junction where the geothermal
energy is rich. For instance, So Miguel is a typical volcanic island,
and its geothermal generation accounted for 42% of electricity in
2007. The total installed capacity of geothermal generation in So
Miguel reached 27.8 MW in 2008 [62]. Besides, Guadeloupe is one
of a few islands which utilize geothermal energy to generate
electricity among Caribbean islands. In this island, geothermal
power plant with 15 MW installed capacity produced 102 GWh of
electricity in 2005 [63].
Fiji and Solomon Islands are located in the junction of the
Pacic plate and the Australian-Indian plate. These areas have
great potentials to exploit geothermal energy resources. However,
the development of geothermal energy in these areas is still at the
planning and deployment stage with zero installed capacity. For
instance, although St Lucia with 170 GW h potential per year
began to exploit geothermal energy as early as 40 years ago [64],
there is yet no electricity generation so far. On the other hand, the
initial capital costs of geothermal energy are relatively high, and
there are also geographical limitations for the geothermal energy
development.

Biomass energy is an abundant renewable energy resource on


the earth. The total primary energy consumption of biomass
reached approximately 57 EJ in 2013, which accounted for 10% of
global primary energy supply [31]. Also, the biomass supplies the
primary energy consumption in some islands and is widely used
for cooking, heating and lighting. There are two forms to exploit
biomass energy, namely traditional biomass and modern biomass.
Traditional biomass energy is still the main form of utilization in
most of islands, including directly ring solid wood and agricultural residues. However, the direct combustion of biomass has a
lower efciency of 515% and produces large amounts of GHG
while modern biomass energy has a higher efciency of 6090%
with less impact on the environment. Therefore, more and more
islands turn to utilize the modern biomass.
Modern biomass energy, including methane, fuel ethanol, biological fuel oil, and so on, has been utilized in islands. In Crete, the
biomass potential is about 360 GW h every year [47], and it can
provide an effective substitute for the traditional energy. Furthermore, the remainders of 600 olive oil processing factories and
other subsidiary agricultural waste can reach 517,719 thousand
tons per year, and can generate 12 MW power outputs from biomass power plants [42]. In Reunion, the biomass energy is the
largest energy source except for fossil fuels. Moreover, the bagasse
and coal mixture power plants were built in 2005, and it burned
590 thousand tons of bagasse and had an installed capacity of
108 MW [41]. Consequently, 10.31% of electricity was produced by
sugarcane bagasse in 2008 [29]. Also, the potential of organic
waste to produce electricity is 1281 GW h in Reunion every year
[41]. In Fiji, the biomass energy accounts for more than 50% of
primary energy consumption [27], and lots of sugarcane bagasse
are utilized for heating and electricity generation. About 3% of
electricity was produced by bagasse plants and other biomass
generation in 2008 [27]. In order to develop biomass energy, the
government supports the biofuels such as biodiesel, coconut oil
and bio-ethanol with massive subsidies in Fiji [33].
Many islands have abundant coconut oil, and it can be traditionally used for cooking and drying and also be processed into

3.5. Geothermal energy

3.6. Ocean energy


Many islands are blessed with various types of ocean energy, in
the forms of wave, tide, marine current, salinity gradient or ocean
thermal gradient [6568]. Compared with wind and solar energy,
the ocean energy is characterized by less volatility and better
predictability, and the existing ocean energy utilization is still in

s
ms
215
400800
1020
20
20
10010,000
1001000
5100
6001200
11,900
HES
FES

4070
85%

ms
350800
520
215
7085%
1660

150230
NaS

Vanadium redox 1050

ms
125250
1015
440
8090%

245500
Li-ion

150240

ms
9001,300
1416
1.53.5
7888

low
180200
CAS
Lead-acid

80200

min
s
370
50270
2040
515
1030
0.21.8
7080
7080

min
1070
3050
Low
PHS

3.25.5
3050

Cycling capability
(k)
Energy efciency
(%)
Specic energy
(Wh/kg)
Specic power
(W/kg)
Storage type

Table 6
Characteristics of different energy storage systems.

Renewable energy is characterized by inherent volatility and


randomness, while the island power grids should maintain the
balance of supply and demand in a real-time mode. Energy storage
techniques are the effective approaches to cope with the stochastic
and volatile behaviors of renewable energy generation, and the
redundant renewable energy can be transformed to mechanical
energy, electromagnetic energy and chemical energy in various
energy storage systems (ESSs). Also, the stored energy can be
released when electricity generation from renewable energy is
insufcient. Hence, the energy storage techniques can provide the
energy buffering to accommodate the output variation of renewable energy generation. Blechinger et al. [9] provided a comparative analysis for the energy supply system, in which the penetration level of renewable energy with energy storage can be up to
70.9% while the level without energy storage is only 45.8%. It can
be found that a reliable energy storage system is an important and
effective approach to improve the renewable energy penetration
[69,70].
Energy storage techniques, including PHS, battery energy storage (BES), compressed air storage (CAS), ywheels energy storage
(FES), hydrogen energy storage (HES), super capacitors storage
(SCS) and so on, have been used in island power grids [71]. The
ESSs in island power grids can be determined by various factors,
including the storage capacity, charging and discharging time,
location selection for ESSs, geographical conditions of islands,
investment and operational costs, etc. So far, BES, HES and PHS are
main energy storage techniques used in islands. Table 6 presents
the characteristic parameters for different ESSs.
BES is one of the most popular energy storage techniques in
market, and the main types of BES include lead-acid battery,
lithium-ion battery, vanadium redox battery (VRB), nickelcadmium battery and sodiumsulphur (NaS) battery. Different BES is
applicable for different situations of island energy systems based
on the characteristics of batteries including energy storage capacity, charging and discharging rates, lifetime, roundtrip efciency
and costs. For example, lead-acid battery is applicable for smallscale energy storage system (o10 MW), while lithium-ion battery
and VRB are used more universally in large-scale energy storage
system (4 10 MW) [72]. The lead-acid battery is the most mature
technique which can be used extensively to provide reliable power

Life (year) Capital cost


($/kWh)

4.1. Energy storage techniques

2050

Response time Application

The inherent characteristics of renewable energy sources, such


as the intermittence of wind and solar energy and the seasonality
of hydropower and so on, would lead to the imbalance between
energy supply and demand, and then fail to guarantee the continuity and reliability of power supply. Therefore, developing the
grid-integration technologies for utilization of island renewable
energy is important to ensure a continuous and stable power
supply.

7085

4. Strategies to improve the grid-integration of renewable


energy in islands

Low

the early development and demonstration stages. Most notably,


the utilization of wave energy and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) has received more attention in islands. There are some
demonstration projects to utilize ocean energy for electricity
supply, such as a 10 MW OTEC power plant in Reunion [41], a
1.5 MW wave energy system in Micronesia [33], and a seawater air
conditioning project under construction in Oahu Island [35]. With
the development of energy conversion technologies, ocean power
generation will have a promising and attractive prospect in the
future.

509

Spinning reserve, energy storage, peak shaving, frequency modulation, phase modulation
Spinning reserve, energy storage, peak shaving, frequency modulation
Energy storage, voltage control, uctuation suppression, power quality controller
Energy storage, voltage control, uctuation suppression, power quality controller
Power quality controller, black start, peak shaving, demand side
management, loss reduction, area control
Spinning reserve, black start, peak shaving, demand side management, loss reduction, area control
Energy storage, power quality controller, peak shaving
Energy storage, power quality controller, peak shaving, spinning
reserve

Y. Kuang et al. / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 59 (2016) 504513

510

Y. Kuang et al. / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 59 (2016) 504513

supply by combining diesel fuel and renewable energy in islands


[73]. With the assistance of lead-acid battery, the total installed
capacity of renewable energy in Apolima Island can achieve 100%
of electricity demand in 2005 [72]. NaS battery with high energy
density and long cycle life is applied to Nan'ao Island, and simulations demonstrate that renewable energy can be integrated into
the isolated grid with high penetration in remote islands [74]. In
Crete, wind power curtailment is minimized by means of the NaS
battery which shifts the electrical energy from wind power from
off-peak to on peak [75]. Furthermore, lithium-ion battery features
excellent weight-to-energy and weight-to-power ratios compared
to other types of batteries, which is suitable for mobile application.
Besides, VRB can respond to supply or absorb power at once and
the storage capacity can be precisely designed according to system
requirements, and thus some islands have adopted this energy
storage technique. In King Island, a VRB energy storage system has
been installed to improve the utilization of wind power and
decrease the diesel generation [72].
PHSs have been widely used, accounting for 98.3% of installed
storage capacity for global power grids in 2011 [76]. The energy
conversion efciency of PHS can achieve 7085% and it would
maintain a rapid growth rate in the coming decades [77]. Largescale PHS is applicable for the islands with large peak load demand
over 50 MW [70], and it has been widely utilized to improve the
penetration level of alternative renewable energy and reduce
environmental pollution in islands. The variability and predictability of wind power have constrained its full utilization to power
grids, but the PHS can regulate its power output to reduce the
inuence on system stability and frequency quality. It has been
demonstrated that, with an optimum-sized economic analysis for
the wind powered PHS system in Gran Canaria Island, the penetration of renewable energy can be increased by 1.93%, saving
52.55 GW h of electricity, 13,655 t of fossil fuels and reducing
43,064 t of carbon dioxide emissions [78]. Moreover, the PHSs can
be utilized for implementation with high feasibility in islands from
the economic and technical viewpoints. Tao Ma et al. have discussed the technical feasibility of island energy system with PHS,
and then concluded that the PHS can be used as an effective
complement to accommodate the intermittency and volatility of
solar and wind energy. Consequently, a reliable island electricity
supply can be ensured and then GHG emissions were reduced to
achieve the 100% energy self-sufciency [70].
Compared with CAS, SCS and FES, the HES with high energy
density can respond rapidly to balance power supply and demand,
improve frequency quality, and smooth the power output of
renewable energy. HES has some interesting characteristics, and
the production, storage and usage of hydrogen are mutually
independent [79]. There are various ways to produce hydrogen,
including gasifying coal/ biomass/fuel, and wind/solar transformation, etc. On the other hand, hydrogen can be used as fuel cell,
generation fuel and transportation fuel. Hydrogen, as an energy
vector, has been applied to the islands of Mljet-Croatia, Porto
Santo-Madeira, Terceira-Azores, and Malta [79]. It has also been
indicated that renewable energy can not only provide 100% power
supply in islands, but also offer 100% transport fuel supply by
converting renewable energy into hydrogen under certain conditions. In Porto Santo Island, due to lack of ESS to restrain wind
power variability, only 45% of the power output from wind turbines can be utilized. Through the hydrogen storage technique, the
utilization rate of wind power can be improved up to 100% [80]. In
addition, an isolated power system with HES has been designed
and implemented in Milos Island, and further comparative analysis indicates that the system can increase the penetration level of
renewable energy from 0.13 to 0.85, thus reducing 50% of fossil
fuel consumption and electricity costs [81].

In some cases, ESS requires both relatively high energy density


and power density, and hence the hybrid energy storage system is
a better solution than a single storage system, especially for
microgrids. Thus, a hybrid ESS combining the VRB with super
capacitor is applied to microgrid in order to satisfy the energy
storage requirements [82]. In the hybrid ESS, the VRB characterized by high energy density and preferable long-time storage is
used for microgrid autonomy, while super capacitor with high
power density and preferable short-time storage is employed to
cope with fast power variations [82]. Furthermore, George et al.
analyzed a stand-alone power system with ywheel and battery
storages from the viewpoints of economy and feasibility, and then
concluded that the hybrid energy storage system cannot only meet
the real-time electricity demand, but also show its superiority on
operational costs compared with single battery storage [83].
4.2. Hybrid renewable energy system
Due to its inherent seasonality, variability, periodicity and other
characteristics, a single renewable energy generation, such as
solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower generation, is difcult to
provide a continuous and economic power supply all the time
[80]. Consequently, the hybrid energy system with multiplying
renewable generations can be formed and utilized to alleviate the
intermittent and unstable effects of electricity supply [17]. For
most of islands, the sunlight is sufcient for generating abundant
electricity from PV panels in summer, and thus more energy from
PV can be used and stored for electricity supply. On the other
hand, the sunlight will be weakened in winter and wind power is
the main contributor to support more electricity supply. In addition, in the rain season, the islands will give priority to utilizing
the hydropower with low costs. There are various congurations
for hybrid renewable energy systems, such as wind/PV, PV/biomass, wind/hydropower, wind/PV/biomass, etc. [84].
Hybrid renewable energy system is an effective solution to
electricity supply for islands as well as remote villages, in which
the electricity generation from renewable energy can exceed 50%
of the total generations [69]. Therefore, the extensive investigations based on hybrid renewable energy system in islands have
been carried out. Ma et al. designed a hybrid solar-wind-battery
system to provide 100% power supply for power consumers, in
which solar and wind energy accounted for 84% and 16%, respectively [84]. Also, from the perspectives of environmental and
ecosystem protection, Katsaprakakis DA analyzed a hybrid power
system which is dominated by wind and solar energy with a diesel
generator as the reserve unit. In this energy system, the renewable
energy can supply 94% of total electricity demand, with low
operational and maintenance costs as well as unrestraint of diesel
price uctuations [85]. Meanwhile, a hybrid renewable energy
system is designed to decrease the high dependency on expensive
fossil fuels. By means of the coordination between wind energy
and water reservoirs, the energy system with 90% penetration of
renewable energy can meet the real-time electricity demand, thus
greatly decreasing the electricity costs [86].
4.3. Microgrid
Microgrid is a small-scale localized energy system consisting of
various distributed generators, energy storage devices, and local
loads [19,87]. Microgrid can operate exibly in the islanded mode
and grid-connected mode, and the distributed renewable generators can be installed in various locations in microgrids. With
the coordinated control of microgrid, the variability and intermittency of renewable energy can be partially dispatchable. Furthermore, local electricity generation and consumption in

Y. Kuang et al. / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 59 (2016) 504513

microgrids can avoid the power losses from long-distance transmission, and hence is particularly suitable for isolated islands.
So far, various demonstration projects for microgrid have been
implemented in many islands, and the corresponding techniques
have also been extensively studied to enhance the penetration of
renewable energy. Williams et al. analyzed the organizational
structure and development situation of microgrids as well as the
advanced technologies of monitoring, measuring, energy conversion, and control strategies, and then concluded that highpenetration renewable energy was integrated into microgrids to
ensure the stable and reliable electricity supply [19]. Besides, Zhao
et al. presented an optimization approach to design East Fukuyama
Island's microgrid to alleviate the dependence on imported fossil
fuels and reduce the expense on energy services [88]. In Pulau
Ubin Island, an islanding microgrid is designed as a demonstration
project to utilize local renewable energy for electricity supply. The
proposed microgrid system can not only reduce the electricity
costs, but also alleviate the reliance on traditional fossil fuels [89].
4.4. Demand-side management
In islands, the electricity generation is mainly used for commerce and residence. With the advent of advanced communication and information infrastructures, the responsive demand side
management can be utilized to coordinate the residential energy
consumption with varying power generations from renewable
energy sources [90]. Demand side management refers to the
coordination between the power supply and demand through
end-user appliance management. In islands, end-users can switch
on electrical appliances when the power generation of renewable
energy is sufcient, and reduce or even switch off them under the
condition of insufcient electricity supply. Therefore, the demand
side management can schedule the end-users' appliance usages to
balance the irregular power generation from island renewable
energy. In Reunion, the average growth rate per year of electricity
generation decreased from 5.3% to 3.6% through demand side
management [41]. In Oahu Island, the hourly demand-side management is adopted to accommodate the power supply so as to
improve both the operational efciency of thermal plants and
wind energy penetration [91].
4.5. Distributed generation
Distributed generation makes use of dispersed available energy
sources for electricity generation and can be connected directly to
the distribution network or on the customer side. Thus, less
transmission loss and costs, less congurations of transmission
and distribution, and less transmission congestion can be obtained
compared with conventional centralized generation pattern [92].
In addition, the rating of distribution generation is exible, ranging
from a couple of kilowatts to up to hundreds of megawatts, which
is suitable for islands with isolated location and spare population.
Various scenarios of power supply in Gkceada, which consider
the integration of distributed generation including wind power,
PV, diesel generators and so on, are simulated, and not only energy
costs can be reduced but also power supply can be provided by
alternative energy, thus increasing the continuity and reliability of
power supply [93]. Meanwhile, some distributed generation projects in Dominica are implemented for government and hospitality
sectors in isolated areas and in parks.
4.6. Smart grid
The recently emerged smart grid can maintain a balance
between electricity supply and demand by virtue of the advanced
information and communications technology. Through advanced

511

metering technology, the information of renewable energy generation can be delivered in real time to customers and electricity
demand of customers can also be fed back to the renewable generation units, which constructs a bidirectional communication
ow. Thus, renewable energy generation can be automatically
regulated to match the electricity demand in order to achieve the
operational objectives as efciently as possible, minimizing
environmental impacts and maximizing system reliability and
stability. Constructing the smart grid is an important measure for
many islands to develop renewable energy [41,49]. An energyindependent smart network utilizing ocean and wind energy is
studied in Aran Island community, and the intelligent control
algorithm can optimize the electricity consumption to minimize
costs [94]. In Moushuni Island, smart grid technologies play an
essential role in the integration of solar energy to power grid to
obtain economic and environment benets [95].

5. Conclusion
In islands, lack of fuel supply and environmental pollution
issues oblige people to develop and exploit local alternative
renewables for the sustainable electricity supply, and most islands
are blessed with abundant renewable energy resources. So far,
various renewable energy sources have been utilized for electricity
generation in island power grids. While hydropower, wind energy,
and solar power are the main contributor to island energy consumption, only a few islands make use of modern biomass, geothermal and ocean energy for electricity generation. In addition,
the renewable energy installations among islands are different.
Some islands have achieved the goal that 100% of electricity is
generated from renewable energy, while in most of islands only a
small proportion with less than 10% of total energy is produced
from renewable energy. The most obvious obstacle of renewable
energy utilization is the variability and randomness of weatherdependent renewables, and a series of effective measures have
been employed, including energy storage, microgrid, hybrid
renewable energy system, demand side management, distributed
generation and smart grid, to further enhance the utilization of
renewable energy. With the advent of advanced communication
and information infrastructures in the future smart grids, the
utilization of grid-connected renewable energy sources will have a
promising prospect to improve the efciency, economics, reliability, and energy conservation in island energy systems.

Acknowledgements
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the National
High Technology Research and Development of China (863 Program: 2011AA050203), the National Natural Science Foundation of
China (51507056), and also would like to express our sincere
thanks to the organizations and individuals whose literatures have
been cited in this paper.

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