GSEP announces next steps for Galápagos wind park
After more than eight years of successful commercial operations, the GSEP has published a report containing performance summary and expansion recommendations for the Galapagos San Cristóbal Island Wind Park. The publication of this report coincides with the transfer of the facilities to the local utility, ELECGALÁPAGOS S.A., who is ready to move towards the goal of converting the Galapagos Islands into a zero fossil fuels territory.
With three 800 kW turbines and two 6 kW solar photovoltaic systems which have cumulatively produced 136,000 kWh of electricity, the park is the first large-scale wind facility in Ecuador. Since its commissioning in 2007, it has reduced diesel consumption by 2.3 million gallons, prevented the emission of 21,000 tonnes of CO2, and supplies approximately 30% of San Cristóbal Island’s electricity needs.
The project was conceived in the wake of the Jessica oil tanker accident, which spilled approximately 150,000 gallons of fuel oil and diesel in the Galapagos Islands. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) approached the GSEP in 2001 in its search for private sector partners to implement a joint UN-Ecuadorian plan to displace diesel with renewable sources. The GSEP, led by member companies American Electric Power and Germany’s RWE AG, undertook the project on San Cristóbal Island and has worked collaboratively with the ministry, the local utility, and the community on the Island to overcome challenges throughout the project’s development and construction phases.
The recent report offers a four-step expansion plan which could help increase the penetration of renewables on the island to 70% within a reasonable investment range:
- Fully automate and overhaul the systems that control the diesel and wind generation
- Install more solar photovoltaic capacity
- Add a fourth wind turbine unit at the existing wind park at El Tropezón hill
- Add battery storage. The project currently has no storage.
The GSEP has agreed to initiate an evaluation, led by RWE, of the proposed expansion options in order to increase the share of renewables on San Cristóbal.
As an organization committed to sustainable energy development, the GSEP is proud that the Galapagos San Cristóbal Island Wind Project has been a pioneer in the use of wind energy resources in the region. This project is a model for replicability in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America, and worldwide and will continue to benefit the residents of San Cristóbal Island in the years to come.