Renewable Energy on the Island
Renewable energy is the term used to describe energy that occurs naturally in the environment. This includes energy from the wind, tides, sun or rivers. These energy sources are essentially inexhaustible and have low or zero levels of carbon emissions.
Another key issue is how energy produced locally – known as “distributed energy” – can be fed into the national grid. The local grid is not always strong enough to take significant amounts of renewable electricity and this will be a major constraint on the Island’s renewable energy ambitions.
In response, Isle of Wight Council has commissioned a study to look at the combined effects on the grid of known renewable energy projects and the reinforcement that will be required for major projects to go ahead.
The Island Strategic Partnership has an ambition for the Island to be self-sufficient in electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Based on current electricity consumption, this means enough renewable energy to provide 575 GWh of electricity per year. Since different forms of renewable energy have different ‘load factors’ – the proportion of the theoretical maximum output that is produced over a year – it is very difficult to predict what level of installed capacity will be required to meet this target.
Based on a theoretical mixture of wind, tidal stream and energy from waste, the installed capacity would need to be in the order of 170 MW, but this could be reduced substantially if the Island consumes much less electricity by 2020 or if a large system with a high load factor is installed.
In this section we look at various forms of renewable energy which are applicable to the Isle of Wight and their potential to contribute to local renewable energy generation.