Islands: Sun, Sea, Solar Power

By Peggy Hammond    December 7, 2018

Innovative Solar Systems, LLC develops utility-scale solar farms, so we know the importance of providing more affordable electricity for businesses and families.  Such savings are fundamentally important to people living in isolated locations, a reality we may not think about if we live in a populated area.  Further, unless we call an island home, we may never consider electricity costs there; in reality, that expense is significant.

Diesel-generated electricity on islands means high costs challenge consumers.  The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) understands “The residents on island nations pay some of the highest electricity prices in the world because of their near-total dependence on imported diesel – perpetuating poverty and inequality, . . . hampering investments, and blocking sustainable development.”  For these reasons, RMI is working to change this situation; so far they’ve “facilitated the implementation of 26 projects totaling over 140 MW spread across 13 island countries that are either under construction, under procurement, or plan to be tendered.”  A list of islands involved is located on RMI’s website.

Imagine if electricity were available only part of the day; then imagine how life would change if electricity supply were constant.  Three villages in Indonesia are living that positive change.  They now have “uninterrupted access to electricity, thanks to three hybrid mini-grids – comprising solar PV and lithium-ion battery storage.”  Prior to these solar-plus-storage installations, residents “had access to electricity – from diesel generators – for a paltry four hours per day.  Breakdowns and the cost of generating electricity from diesel meant the villagers could not afford electricity for longer periods of time.”  Since solar mini-grids are successfully providing power, now “many . . . firms have . . . plans to develop utility-scale projects in Indonesia.”

The Isles of Scilly, thirty-five miles off England’s Cornish coast, deal with high electricity prices because of their isolated location as well.  However, several solar projects are in the installation process as of summer 2018, some ground-mounted, some residential. The addition of renewable energy to their power generation mix will solve multiple problems for residents: “The isles have no gas supply and rely heavily on imported fossil fuels and electricity via an undersea cable, which lead to high fuel costs that, combined with the large numbers of homes with inefficient heating systems, leaves over 15% of households fuel poor.”  The overall target for solving these problems is comprehensive and geared toward sustainability:  “By 2025 the community seeks to reduce power bills by 40%, increase its use of renewable energy to 40% and have 40% of the vehicles on its roads electric.”

The Cook Islands in the South Pacific expect solar to lower their electricity costs.  This year “[they] have taken a big step towards meeting [their] 2020 100 per cent [sic] renewables target, with half of [the] 12 inhabited islands in the process of being converted from mostly diesel power to solar and battery storage only.”  In early summer, industry reports noted “The first of these, on Mitiaro Island, is now complete and should be able to supply all the power needs of the island.”

Finally, although perhaps not a place people immediately think of upon hearing “island,” Ireland now boasts its largest solar PV project for self -consumption.  Northern Ireland has a 5MW solar farm which powers the Dale Farm’s cheddar cheese plant.  The company’s group operations director explained “Dale Farm is committed to leading the way in sustainability . . . .  This approach is about doing the right thing for the environment and ultimately making our business as lean as it can be, so we can pay our farmer owners the best possible price for their milk.”

ISS is working to help communities access electricity generated from a clean and sustainable source.  The utility-scale solar farms we develop help us accomplish that goal.  For more information about our projects, please call 828-424-7884 or visit