Energy: the difficulties of the Breton islands to achieve 100% renewable – 09-26-2022 at 10:18



The three islands of the Iroise Sea, the Breton islands of Sein, Molène and Ouessant, share the same particularity: they are not connected to the national electricity grid and must produce their own electricity, they have set themselves the goal of reaching 100% renewable energy. in 2030.

The 100% renewable energy target is elusive for the Breton islands of Sein, Molène and Ouessant, hampered by administrative restrictions and opposition to wind power. “Everyone is in favor of the energy transition, but as soon as there is a concrete action to start, it is

never the right place or the right time,”

irritates Denis Palluel, mayor of the island of Ouessant (833 inhabitants), opposite Finistère.

Like his colleagues from Molène and Sein, Denis Palluel committed his municipality in 2012 to an ambitious goal: to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030. Because these three islands in the Iroise Sea share the same particularity:

are not connected to the national electricity grid

and therefore they must produce their own electricity, with generators powered by fuel oil. All at a prohibitive financial and environmental cost.

Ten years after the launch of the approach, it is clear that the path to energy autonomy

it’s still long.

In 2022, Ouessant had only 4% “green” energy, compared to 12% in Sein and only 1% in Molène. However, the islanders do not have

spared no effort,

particularly in terms of energy saving: distribution of low-consumption light bulbs to the population, housing renovation, LED public lighting, etc… “At Sein we have always been used to being careful with water and electricity and we continue to do so ”, smiles Marie-Thérèse Spinec, an 81-year-old islander who claims not to support a house

“heated to 24°C”.

However, some of the savings made have been consumed by

the famous “rebound effect”.

“Some residents who did not heat themselves discovered comfort after the renovation of their houses” and therefore did not reduce their consumption, explains Émilie Gauter, manager of energy and sustainable development projects at the Association des îles du Ponant (AIP ).

To complement their sobriety efforts, all three islands have also installed

a series of solar panels

on the roofs of public buildings. In good weather, when the photovoltaic cells produce at full capacity, the island of Sein (260 inhabitants) can thus stop its generators for several hours. Batteries, which are recharged by solar energy, provide the additional electricity. According to the AIP, the facilities prevent the combustion of 177 m3 of fuel oil per year on the three islands and

to significantly reduce

CO2 emissions.

The construction of a wind turbine in Sein, scheduled to come into service in 2024, still needs

improve the carbon footprint of the island.

“It was a great fight,” said former mayor Dominique Salvert. “We had the veto of the architect of the Buildings of France who did not even want to hear about a wind turbine. It should have been done five years ago,” laments the former elected leader. In Ouessant, the wind turbine project is also stopped. “That is

an aberration not to have one,

given the wind on the islands”, laments Mayor Denis Palluel who had to face opposition from some of his constituents as well as from state services on this ultra-protected island.

“We ran into the administrative mille-feuille”, abounds Didier Delhalle, mayor of Molène (160 inhabitants). Due to lack of space to install a wind turbine, he prefers to bet on

a photovoltaic farm

which should allow the island to reach 67% renewable energy in the long term. “It will be good,” she says. And in Oushant,

submerged tidal turbine

at a depth of 55 meters it could cover up to 20% of the island’s needs, if the tests started in 2015 are finally conclusive.

Despite this progress, the 100% renewable target now seems

hard to reach.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s in 2031 or 2035. It’s like all big projects, we never meet the deadlines,” sweeps Denis Palluel. “You have to have the modesty to recognize that you can’t control everything.”

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