Isla 100 is a tool developed by ITER for analysing different scenarios in which the energy mix of an isolated community is analysed on an hour-by-hour basis, in order to help plan greater reliance on renewable energy generation and storage.
The process of supplying with renewable energy a community of 10,000 inhabitants is completely different to supplying one of half a million. To plan appropriately for increased reliance on renewables, strategies need to be developed on a regional basis, taking into account the specific local considerations. These should reflect specifically levels of energy demand and daily and seasonal energy consumption behaviours, taking into account economic development and human need considerations, which have a major impact on energy consumption. In addition, the challenge of supplying a large area with autonomous renewable energy poses a technical, human and strategic challenge.
The most important technical challenge to the adoption of renewable energy is gauging how best to regulate, integrate and store it – these are the main hurdles in the large-scale implementation of technologies based on renewable energy. Several aspects need to be considered, including the use of fuel cells, hydrogen-based storage systems, batteries, storage through hydropower, thermal storage, etc.
The main barrier to the large-scale integration of renewable energy sources with variable output (depending on the input from the resource, such as wind and photovoltaics) is that energy storage becomes essential and must be capable of continuing to supply peak demands during period in which the resource is scarce. The development of efficient storage systems that can adapt to energy demands during periods of adverse weather conditions is of vital importance to the stability, safety and efficiency of a stand-alone power system.
This therefore requires a process of carefully establishing the storage needs, balanced against ensuring a power capacity capable of meeting peak consumption levels. In addition, the costs of each system must be taken into account when balancing the overall investment. In some cases, it will be desirable to increase the installed wind power capacity, even if energy generation capacity is wasted, but thus reducing significantly the costs of the storage components of the system.
To analyse these various scenarios, ITER developed, some years ago, a tool – the ‘Tenerife 100’ – to study on an hour-by-hour basis the island’s energy mix, and how that mix varies by introducing different renewables and storage systems. This tool, which has undergone a continual upgrade process and is currently called ‘Isla 100’, allows you to enter data related to any other location to carry out the relevant analysis.
The results that have accrued from these continual analyses have produced a valuable tool, on both technical and political levels, to plan increasing the input from renewable energy in national grids. The data also reveal the barriers that exist to greater integration and large-scale deployment of technologies based on renewable energies.