Due to the natural environment of islands, they have fragile energy systems although some technical innovations and renewable energy exploitation present the easy way out such as self-sufficiency. Islands are highly prone to climate change and hence, the need for decarbonization but due to challenges like high energy prices, dependency on fuel importation, lack of landmass and other resources, and many others the solution is far-fetched.
It is worthy to note that Self-sufficiency is hindered by the following
Instability of grids: Equilibrium is key as regards power grids. The energy produced should be the same amount to be consumed. The utilization of the energy generated is very important to avoid frequency disturbances and voltage volatility in power grids. However, due to the population of most Islands, this becomes a challenge in their renewable energy transition.
Local conditions: Most developing Islands are associated with inadequate manpower, landmass, biomass, public funds, resources, logistics, and management, required to enhance the growth of clean energy. Local leadership also affects renewable energy transfer. Most islands depend solely on imported oil as they seem to be an easy way out for them while others are planning on how to convert to a sustainable energy alternative. Co-operative programs and innovations in policies are needed to enhance the energy transition of most Islands.
Sector integration: Integration is a very crucial part when considering renewable energy. How to incorporate the sector, the energy distribution, and storage, thermal-activated technologies as well as the transmission line, are all attributes of integration.
Renewable Energy Integration on Islands
The energy transition from fossil fuels will definitely enhance domestic economic and ecological resilience, reduce energy prices, and practically reduce or mitigate carbon emissions. However, to enjoy all these benefits, there is a need for external financing. In addition, for the Islands to become self-sufficient in renewable energy production, they need storage facilities and policy adjustments to balance the load.
Load balancing is important for interconnected grids as it can reduce the challenges of the energy transition, although it can't solve all the challenges faced in opting for renewable energy alone.
Islands have the potential to lead the global adoption of better sustainable energy such as large-scale and seasonal batteries, renewable hydrogen production, heat recycling, and efficiency improvements as well as market levers such as local electricity price structures and efficiency incentives.
Most Islands are eager to utilize renewable energy to supply their heat and power needs although some Islands like Samsø, Orkney, and Madeira are already on a 100% renewable energy plan, while others are still planning on how to embark on the journey with many challenges withdrawing them from doing so.
It is worthy to note that the European Union (EU) has the initiative to empower and increase the use of renewable energy due to the global net-zero carbon emissions plan and also it has a clean energy target for all EU Islands to support energy transition.
According to reports, the Renewable energy shares for the Islands are to be increased to 100% so as to be effective and hasten the exploitation of renewable energy in the Islands in the areas of exploration of storage, and demand-side management, as well as micro and smart grids installations.
In conclusion, the challenges faced by energy transitions in the Islands are also the energy application challenges faced by the world as a whole. As the world begins to divert its attention to clean energy sources due to its effort to mitigate climate catastrophe, ecosystem vulnerability, and resource insecurity, there should be innovations in policy and sufficient funding so as to promote the energy transition for a better climate. If energy transition to clean and sustainable energy is possible on the Islands, then it can happen anywhere in the world.