Island's Energy Identity

A critical element of exploring the island's conditions is to understand its current energy system. In that sense, the collection of information related to energy production and consumption supports determining the priorities for its transition to clean energy. For this purpose, a complete analysis of the island energy system is recommended as input to develop a feasible replication plan of the ROBINSON concept. For a comprehensive description of the energy system, accurate data are crucial. In cases without accurate data, estimates can be made based on available information.

A detailed diagnosis of the location’s special characteristics should be considered, along with the technical specifications of the local energy grid. Situational factors such as the size of the system, the geography and the location, affect the RES plants’ synthesis and operating features, especially when investigating insular areas (Groppi et al., 2019; Katsaprakakis, 2016). Similarly, the energy storage systems present an excellent performance in insular locations, having a great potential for exploitation (Caralis et al., 2019), and acting as enablers for higher RES penetration in existing energy grids(Aragón et al., 2022). The energy system description could refer to the most recent annual and/or seasonal data. Generally, detailed, and exhaustive descriptions of the energy system are recommended to optimise the synthesis of the ROBINSON components for better impact in local environments.

 

To realise the special needs and challenges of islands, the energy system description is classified according to the following energy vectors:

  1. Electricity generation and consumption
  2. Transport on the island
  • Transport to and from the island
  1. Heating and cooling
  2. Other

 

To this end, Robinson’s Web Evidence Base approach, has been built on a comprehensive methodology, starting from the local energy loads assessment, and the assessment of RES potential locally, at islands level, integrating data and knowledge from the demonstration site and the follower islands.

Local conditions mapping also includes the opportunities that are capable to transform the linear local economy model into a circular model, reducing simultaneously the resource depletion and the carbon emissions. Under this scope acts the exploitation of waste for energy recovery and the industrial symbiosis approaches. The solid waste-to-energy route can be assessed for defining the energy recovery potential for options such as the anaerobic digestion, landfill gat to energy, mass incineration and refuse derived fuel incineration (Kumar & Samadder, 2022), at local level, while the feasibility assessment by integrating also essential economic indicators (capital, compliance, operation cost) can indicate the full potential of each territory(Hoang et al., 2022). Following the same concept of breaking the linear relations between the consumption of resources and the produced waste in a city level, the Industrial – Urban symbiosis (I-Us) approach, uses the outputs of the industrial processes as inputs, maximizing the economic and environmental benefits in a city, focusing on recycling activities, town planning, community, and outreach (van Berkel et al., 2009). The analysis of I-Us potential in insular cities is essential for shaping the overall view of needs and conditions.

Together with the technical aspects and requirements, critical element for consideration is the insular community. The successful stakeholders’ mapping facilitates the engagement of key actors into the insular project development and provides the essence of co-creation in the overall development approach. A comprehensive, balanced stakeholders’ representation into the working team, also the definition of roles and the level of their involvement, will bring together essential knowledge and experience, early identification of risks and challenges, and potential solutions for being addressed, together with the assurance of increased awareness and public acceptance.

The public acceptance and willingness towards sustainable energy innovations and policies, including the installation and using of renewable energy sources, especially in close ecosystems such as the islands, is of critical importance for achieving a green energy transition. Social acceptance requires the understanding of conditions, needs and benefits of the RES involvement in an energy project, while the community’s support could be ensured through the deployment of strategies and actions that aimed to attitudes and preferences, and by bringing together those solutions with the local community i.e. promoting the adoption of RES at household level; residential PV panels, etc.

On the other side of the rigorously integration of RES for achieving public acceptance, the overall capacity of installed RES in the investigated island should be addressed. The assessment of existing RES systems, combined with the potential of RES expansion that mentioned above, exceedingly sometimes the value of 90% in islands, for making the energy transformation a feasible, success story.