Saturday, April 28, 2012

Islands of Self-Sufficiency

Many of the world’s islands have a long history of taking care of themselves, so it is no surprise that several islands now are trying to put themselves forward as models of energy self-sufficiency. These include Samsø and Ærø in Denmark, El Hierro in the Canary Islands, Eigg in Scotland, Iceland, and the Isle of Wight.

Islands have greater access to tidal and wind power than most inland places, and small size and clear boundaries make them attractive as demonstration projects. On an island, it is harder to suspect that the energy burden is being shifted across a political boundary somehow. At the same time, the difficulties of access gives islands a greater reason to seek self-sufficiency. If war or severe weather disrupts ocean shipping, the people on an island want to be able to carry on. By the end of this decade, there may be 20 to 30 islands that are no longer regularly importing energy in any form. Their approaches will surely provide a starting point or direction for other places that are drawing up energy plans.