MEPs, experts at EDP event laude Canary Islands’ renewable energy solutions

The Canary Islands can help crack Europe’s energy problem, concluded policymakers and renewable energy experts meeting at the EDP-hosted Solutions for Europe' event held on 28 October 2022 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The islands’ pioneering work to harness gusty winds and powerful ocean waters to supply ample amounts of low-cost energy said attendees that included EDP member party Coalición Canaria. The full-day meeting heard from European Parliament members and island specialists who outlined how a framework for collaboration within the territory helped build pioneering sustainable solutions. 

Given the success in the Canary Islands, more can be done, however, as Members of the European Parliament and the Canary Islands Parliament agreed with island experts on hand that the renewable energy sector needs to pick up the pace to build out clean energy sources in territories with specific needs. like the Canary Islands. Such territories which must grapple with being in remote settings isolated from the continental mainland. 

Panel on renewable energy: EU leadership needed

Participants in the forum ‘Solutions for the Canary Islands [and] Solutions for Europe’, organized by the European Democratic Party (EDP) featured a roundtable on renewable energies featured Enrique Rodríguez de Azero, president of the Canary Islands Association of Renewable Energies (ACER), who underlined the "leadership" that the EU plays in setting the gaols in the international scenario of renewable energies, but highlighted the need for "a greater demand" within the EU countries.

Rodríguez de Azero said: "We have made progress, but there is still a long way to go to improve at all levels associated with renewable energies. We have to be able not only to reduce the use of fossil fuels, but to achieve their total disappearance in order to eradicate pollutants and also to reduce costs", explained Rodríguez de Azero. "And the Canary Islands represent a place where this change can be made real as a unique space for Europe." 

Ciro Gutiérrez Ascanio, Director of Sustainability at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, also addressed the need to continue raising awareness in society of the importance of "really driving towards being a territory of the future in terms of clean energy and sustainability." 

 "From the two public universities of the Canary Islands, we want to offer a transversal vision of the sustainability we need," he explained. There is still a certain reluctance to renewable energies and sustainable social values, adding: "There is still a lack of conviction among citizens about the path we want to follow to improve our present and project a better future, but we all have to make it clear to everyone that we can no longer consume as we did 50 years ago."

Leading by example on El Hierro

Attendees learned how the Gorona del Viento project on the island of El Hierro gives a shining example for the rest of Europe on ways to achieve self-sufficiency through renewable energies. Explaining the project elements leading to the Gorona del Viento facility success, Candelaria Sánchez, expert in clean energies and assistant for maintenance management urged Europe to deploy it.

Sánchez noted:  "It is a real solution for areas such as island territories, which face factors different from the mainland…all territories must face challenges as current as energy sovereignty or self-consumption through clean means."

Renewable energy sector : Parliamentarians at European and regional levels take note

MEP Stéphane Bijoux, originally from Reunion Island, brought to light the heavy demands of the renewable energy sector in the Canary Islands.

Bijoux said: "Among all of us we have to be able to increase confidence in the common EU project because that is the origin of specific working meetings, in this case on renewable energies, to generate confidence among all that we share and also in future generations."

Bijoux addressed the scenario of clean energy from the perspective of an island in the Indian Ocean, but with a firm belief in the European and pro-European vocation of the societies of the outermost regions. "Now we see the impact of the war in Ukraine, of Putin's aggression against a sovereign country," he said. "But that war against democracy is also a war against Europe and, of course, against our outermost territories."

His thoughts were echoed by Narvay Quintero, Canary Islands deputy for El Hierro from Coalición Canaria, who praised renewable energy breakthroughs developed on the island of El Hierro to achieve a balance between production and consumption requirements thanks to the Gorona del Viento power plant.

The Canary Islands have advanced renewable energies generation and use more than any other territory in the European Union, he observed, and shared with MEP Bijoux that the implementation of renewable energies in the outermost regions "have not waited for anyone". Because of this, El Hierro was well prepared for difficult energy shocks such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Quintero said: "I remember those first steps when we started talking about the Gorona del Viento project and now we can see with satisfaction all the way we have come." He also highlighted the work done by the previous Government of the Canary Islands in matters of energy and sustainability. 

"Today we are much more aware of the importance of energy and consumption in society, but in El Hierro and in the Canary Islands, we had already advanced before. So now we must pick up the pace of implementation and efficiency in our society."

Portugal’s Juntos pelo Povo party: Balancing energy use and output for Madeira Island

Filipe Sousa, from the Juntos pelo Povo party of the island of Madeira, an outermost region of Portugal, acknowledged that his island "is not as advanced as the Canary Islands" in renewable energies. "We are small, small territory, but we have that shared goal of achieving a balance between our levels of use and energy generation from clean and sustainable sources."

Sousa concluded on renewable energy and Outermost Regions: “Sustainability is within us all. We are firmly convinced by the need to preserve environmental standards.”

Local economy, youth employment

A panel on local economic concerns looked at how the archipelago uses mechanisms to boost entrepreneurship, diversify the local economy and address youth unemployment by collaborating with Canarian entrepreneurs and innovators.

Talking about the Canary Islands economy, regional parliamentarian Cristina Valido said: “In such a unique territory, entrepreneurial initiatives also emerge that reduce the distance that separates us from the continent.”

She called for more effective policies to tackle youth unemployment: “We have to ask ourselves if the policies have been effective…"We need a commitment from the EU with young people not only to get them a job but also to grow.

European parliamentarian Max Orville (Mouvement Démocrate) noted that all outermost regions of Europe encounter the same difficulties in terms of youth unemployment. He said: “It is essential that we all work together to find common solutions.”

Relations with Africa: Much work ahead 

European parliamentarian Max Orville (Mouvement Démocrate) provided his thoughts during the panel on EU relations with Africa. Orville noted that Europe has great expertise on training and higher education.  

He said: “In Africa only 20% have these qualifications…there the European Union can help them obtain these expectations. The European Union is going to help Africa set up its own single market.”

Orville also warned of the growing influence of China and Russia in Africa, saying: “It is necessary to rebuild a reliable, loyal and effective link between Africa and the EU because relations are degraded to the benefit of Russia and China.”

Europe is no longer the priority partner for Africa, Orville added, saying: “We must restore relations with Africa where the Canary Islands play a strategic role because of proximity, knowledge and economic relations.”

Beatriz Calzada from Coalición Canaria also took part in the panel on relations with Africa, adding: “We must break with the burdens that have prevented us from relating to the closest continent to make possible a greater commercial relationship and an enriching social exchange.”

Closing remarks: Reducing fossil fuel dependence, slashing pollution, high-impact research

Secretary General of Coalición Canaria Fernando Clavijo and EDP Executive Vice President Andoni Ortuzar provided closing remarks. 

Clavijo warned: "We cannot keep applying the same solutions to problems that are very different. It is great to see the EDP’s initiative to these challenges”

Ortuzar offered praise to the Canary Islands, highlighting "extraordinary work done in the Canary Islands on renewable energies". He also lauded the efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and the generation of polluting waste. He pointed out work done by two Canary Islands public universities, as research on renewables advanced for the good of the islands in three key areas: facilities for young talent, scientific training, and more agile, low-cost financing.

He added: “We have chosen the Canary Islands see Europe through a different lens. The reality on the ground in the outermost regions drive the reality in the whole of Europe.”

Ortuzar concluded: "In this moment of world difficulty, especially for Europe, the European Democratic Party hosts this event to connect with civil society – with people – to listen and gather ideas that reinforce the democracy and European unity."

Related member(s)

Max <br>Orville
Max
Orville
.

France
MoDem

Andoni<br>Ortuzar
Andoni
Ortuzar
Executive Vice President

Basque Country
EAJ-PNV

José<br>María Etxebarria
José
María Etxebarria
Deputy Secretary General

Basque Country
EAJ-PNV

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