What's the Latest Development?
Spain's smallest Canary Island, El Hierro, is poised to hit the international energy spotlight: When its new, €80 million (US$110 million) wind farm goes online in June, it will be on its way towards becoming the first completely energy self-sufficient island in the world, providing a guaranteed and constant supply of electricity to approximately 10,000 residents without connecting to any outside network. On days when the wind isn't strong enough to generate energy from the farm's five turbines, water pumped into a separate reservoir will power a hydroelectrical plant.
What's the Big Idea?
Local council president Alpidio Armas says that the tiny island "can be a sort of laboratory" that other islands can observe and possibly duplicate. Already officials from several countries, including Indonesia and the United States, have expressed interest, and several international conferences have invited the developers to present their project. While the Canary Islands continue to be popular tourist destinations, it's hoped that El Hierro will attract more science- and nature-minded visitors. Says Armas, "We cannot turn down the benefits that tourism brings, but we don't want mass tourism."
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