Eco-Living Magazine

The Galapagos Islands to Achieve Energy Independence by 2015

Posted on the 14 April 2011 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

The Galapagos Islands to Achieve Energy Independence by 2015Several years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands. At the time I was teaching middle school science and had graduated five years earlier with a degree in biological anthropology. My background leaned heavily toward Darwin and his ideas. However, I had already moved toward sustainability and conservation themes in both my teaching and life in general. While I am well aware of the footprint needed to trek down to the Galapagos Islands, I was amazed at the time of how dependent the islands were on nonrenewable sources of energy.

The islands rely on the tourism that supplies the Galapagos with a steady stream of visitors for income. The population of the islands had exploded in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Human impact on the islands was severe. In my travels I only recalled seeing two photovoltaic panels (one of which is seen in the second picture accompanying this post). I always wondered why the islands did not take advantage of the abundance of energy (wind, solar, tidal). While watching Jeopardy the other night (prior to Wheel of Fortune’s Green Week) I heard about the plan to power the Galapagos Islands exclusively with renewable energy by 2015. While visiting the islands back in 2006 , I learned that diesel generators were the major source of energy for the islands. An oil spill in 2001 off the coast of San Cristobal Island forced a reconsideration of the energy choices at the time. This led to the clean energy mandate, which stands four years away.

The Galapagos Islands to Achieve Energy Independence by 2015
Islands are in a unique energy situation. For example, a trip to the Hawaiian Islands a few years back prompted this take on their sustainability. Japan’s current energy dilemma serves as another warning. Most islands lack oil and natural gas reserves. Iceland has embraced its geological heritage and used geothermal as a major energy source. For other places, like Hawaii and the Galapagos, sunshine is abundant. Wave and tidal power may also provide forays into clean energy for archipelagos. For the Galapagos Island, wind energy will play an important role in their renewable energy production.

The point is that importing fossil fuels and nuclear energy, is only a stop gap measure (for all societies). Islands, like was seen with Rapa Nui (Easter Island), serve as a potential proving ground, a microcosm of earth. For just like the planet, islands are isolated places without easy access to resources from afar.

[Image source: Author's personal photos]

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