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Island Power

by NordicStorm Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 09:07:22 AM EST

If you have a more than passing familiarity with the Nordic countries, you might be aware of (at least) two Nordic island regions which are a bit peculiar (well, slightly more so than the rest of the Nordic region, at any rate): The Faroes and Åland. The two have a lot in common: far-reaching autonomy from its mainland (Denmark and Finland, respectively), a different majority-language than the mainland (Faroish and Swedish), special status in regards to the EU (the Faroes being completely outside of the union and Åland being outside of the EU tax area). They also have something else in common: increased reliance on renewable sources of energy.

Promoted by Colman - living on a medium sized island in the Atlantic I'm always interested in wave power.

The Faroes
In the middle of the northern Atlantic Ocean we have the Danish autonomous region of the Faroe Islands (or the Faroes, for short). About 90% of the Faroese energy demand is currently being cared for by oil and petrol, the end result being one of the highest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the world. Hopefully, that is about to change.
The Faroese company Sewave, a joint venture between the Faroese energy company SEV and the British company Wavegen, are planning on utilising wave power (according to a press release on the website of the Nordic Council). Currently utilisation of wave power is limited. The Scottish island of Islay is probably host to the first commercial wave power plant in the world, constructed by Wavegen in 2000. There's also a "wave farm" near Póvoa de Varzim in northern Portugal. The Faroes, being smack in the middle of an ocean, would be a prime candidate to harness the vast amount of energy that surrounds it. Following feasibility studies conducted in 2002 and 2003, the project went ahead with a proposed site for the wave power plant on the island of Vágar. The concept for the plant seem fairly novel: by building underground tunnels, the entire construction will be practically invisible (see this conceptual sketch), thus causing no "aesthetic damage" to its surroundings. The wave power plant is expected to be in use by 2010.

Meanwhile, in the north of the Baltic Sea, the small Finnish autonomous region of the Åland Islands (or just Åland) is increasingly utilising wind power (all the while construction of a nuclear power plant is in progress on the Finnish mainland). Currently, 16 wind turbines generate enough electricity to cover 7% of the electricity demand of Åland. That percentage will increase significantly within a short few months, as a small wind farm of six turbines is currently being constructed on four archipelago islands in the municipality of Lemland. Construction and operation of the wind farm is handled by the private company Ålands Vindenergi, who operates nine of the 16 wind turbines currently in use. The islands in question are leased from the government of Åland, and the whole project will cost about 15 million Euros.
When the six new wind turbines start functioning in September, 23% of Åland's electricity demands will be met by local wind power. That is just the beginning, as several other projects in various locations through-out Åland are in the planning stages. If they all come to fruition, 70% of the archipelago's electricity needs will be covered (according to an editorial in Tidningen Åland, a local newspaper). Currently, most of Åland's electricity is purchased from Sweden (which may sound counter-intuitive given Finnish sovereignty over Åland, but the main island is geographically closer to Sweden than the Finnish mainland).

The combined population of The Faroes and Åland are less than a 100,000; in the grand schemes things the efforts undertaken may be but a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless, I'd like to think its an encouraging sign of things to come.


Always enjoy and appreciate your northern perspectives, particularly about these new energy developments!! Interesting diary, thanks!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 08:39:14 AM EST
I'm very proud of our wind turbines. In fact, as you drive along one of the main roads of the small coastal city of Mariehamn, which runs in parallel with the shore, you can see four of them in the distance on the other side of the bay. It's a landmark of sorts.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 08:42:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What turbines are they (manufacturer and scale), and who provides maintenance?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 09:41:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They all seem to be listed here (homepage of Ålands Vindenergi, the company mentioned in the diary), the four in particular I mentioned in my comment above ("Fortuna", "Fredrika" etc) are Vestas 600Kw with a wing span of 44m and a hub height between 45m - 50m.

As for maintenance, I'm assuming Ålands Vindenergi handles its nine (soon to be 13), but I couldn't say if they have enough knowledge "in-house" or hire outside expertise.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 09:57:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea! for the windpower guys!

Two days ago, I got into another (pointless) debate about whether wind turbines were "eyesores."  Debating aesthetics is hard enough, but relying on clever sentences and hand gestures is impossible.

So I went and found some footage I have on wind turbines here in Minnesota and cut them together into a video I called "The Beauty of Windpower" and posted the thing on Youtube.  If you have some time, try to look at it--less than 6 minutes long.


If you think I have advanced (or harmed) the argument that wind turbines are indeed beautiful, please let me know.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 04:48:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New Youtube link:


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2007 at 06:27:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've never found them to be particularly obtrusive, personally. Of course, Åland is fairly sparsely populated area (27,000 inhabitants), so you don't need a whole lot of wind turbines to meet the electricity demands of the whole area.
That said, the new wind farm mentioned in the diary isn't being constructed in anyone's way anyway; they're being constructed in a former mining area!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sat Jul 28th, 2007 at 07:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for the diary.  Was aware of much of this, but not the Sewave approach.  Thank you.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 10:03:37 AM EST
there is quite a bit of activity going on related to wave / tidal / ocean power right now.  A few pretty good sites on developments:

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 10:07:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the links! I'm hoping the Faroese attempt works out well; it seems to me there's enormous potential  here...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 10:14:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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