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Global analysis of the techno-economic potential of renewable energy hybrid systems on small islands

Blechinger, P., Cader, C., Bertheau, P., Huyskens, H., Seguin, R., Breyer, C.
Energy policy 2016 v.98 pp. 674-687
batteries, burning, clean energy, cost effectiveness, energy, energy costs, energy use and consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, islands, issues and policy, markets, power generation, solar energy, wind, wind power
Globally, small islands below 100,000 inhabitants represent a large number of diesel based mini-grids. With volatile fossil fuel costs which are most likely to increase in the long-run and competitive renewable energy technologies the introduction of such sustainable power generation system seems a viable and environmental friendly option. Nevertheless the implementation of renewable energies on small islands is quite low based on high transaction costs and missing knowledge according to the market potential.Our work provides a global overview on the small island landscape showing the respective population, economic activity, energy demand, and fuel costs for almost 1800 islands with approximately 20 million inhabitants currently supplied by 15GW of diesel plants. Based on these parameters a detailed techno-economic assessment of the potential integration of solar PV, wind power, and battery storage into the power supply system was performed for each island. The focus on solar and wind was set due to the lack of data on hydro and geothermal potential for a global island study. It revealed that almost 7.5GW of photovoltaic and 14GW of wind power could be economically installed and operated on these islands reducing the GHG-emissions and fuel consumption by approximately 50%. In total numbers more than 20 million tons of GHG emissions can be reduced by avoiding the burning of 7.8 billion liters of diesel per year. Cost savings of around 9 USDct/kWh occur on average by implementing these capacities combined with 5.8GWh of battery storage. This detailed techno-economic evaluation of renewable energies enables policy makers and investors to facilitate the implementation of clean energy supply systems on small islands. To accelerate the implementation of this enormous potential we give specific policy recommendations such as the introduction of proper regulations.