Ever since it acquired the assets of the electricity transmission grid in the Canary Islands, in the middle of 2010, Red Eléctrica is making an investment effort in the maintenance of the existing infrastructure as well as in the construction of new facilities. With these actions, it seeks to achieve a safer, more efficient and sustainable energy model based on the massive integration of renewable energies and interconnections between islands. Taking into account the investments made to date, and those planned for the future, the Company will have invested more than 2.8 billion euros by 2025.
Within this energy investment framework, geared towards the economic and social development of the islands, Red Eléctrica will maintain and boost its dialogue policy in order to reach consensus seeking to make these projects a reality. This will be done whilst seeking the full collaboration of the different public administrations in the Canary Islands in order to avoid delays that could make this commitment to progress and future unviable.
From 2010 to the end of 2016, Red Eléctrica has invested a figure close to 1 billion euros in the acquisition of assets, maintenance and new facilities. If we extend the Company’s investment period in the islands until 2019, this figure will rise to 1,550 million euros. without taking into account the investments planned in pumped storage hydroelectric power facilities.
Red Eléctrica's commitment to the new energy model on the Canary Island will not end in 2019, as it plans to invest 960 million euros between 2020 and 2025 to complete the facilities included in the 2015-2020 electricity transmission grid planning, as well as those included in the annex to the aforementioned planning and that are foreseen for 2020-2025. To be added to this amount, is the investment in energy storage that, at least, in the case of the Soria-Chira pumped storage hydroelectric power station, will reach 320 million euros during this period, although more investments in other projects of this type are possible.
Essential projects for the new energy model in the Canary Islands
In October 2016, the public information process regarding the Soria-Chira pumped storage hydroelectric power station was begun, a project promoted by all public administrations. The 200-megawatt power station includes the construction of a seawater desalination plant and the associated marine works, as well as the connection between the power station and the Santa Águeda substation, commissioned in 2016, through a 220-kilovolt line that will be 20 kilometres in length.
The power capacity of this facility represents about 36% of the current peak demand of the island, which makes it an efficient tool for the operation of the electricity system to improve the security of supply, system safety and the integration of the renewable energies on the island of Gran Canaria. In essence, it represents a key infrastructure to advance towards the sustainability of the new energy model on the Canary Islands.
The complexity of the project and the existence of some differences of opinion between the competent administrations regarding certain details of the project are delaying the permitting process, which will lead to a delay in the commencement of the works, originally planned for the end of 2017.
As for the new lines planned in Fuerteventura and the south of Lanzarote, the 2015-2020 electricity transmission grid planning, approved by the Government of Spain, justifies the convenience of their construction due to the existing weakness of the current electricity lines. The quality of service of the current lines is lower than the operating standards maintained by the Company in the rest of the national territory, and they would not allow the full integration, under safe conditions, of the wind power capacity foreseen in the wind energy plan.
The new lines will minimise the amount of energy not supplied; will allow greater and better integration of renewables; will favour the effective integration between the two islands and with Gran Canaria, and will provide a higher level of security when undertaking to the maintenance and improvement works of existing lines. The projects have been submitted for consultation by the administrations involved, to the public information process and to the environmental impact assessment process. A favourable Environmental Impact Statement was secured through resolution of the Regional Planning and Environment Commission of the Canary Islands. However, even with the permitting process going through under optimal conditions, in recent times there have been logical differences with some public administrations due to the complexity of both projects.
Dialogue with the public administrations taking into account the Company’s commitment to the territory
Red Eléctrica, as transmission agent and operator of the Spanish electricity system, has the obligation to carry out the Planning of the electricity transmission grid approved by the Government of Spain. To do so, it undertakes this responsibility by addressing all its projects from an ethical perspective and through a commitment to social and environmental sustainability; by providing the documentation required in order to obtain the various pertinent administrative and environmental authorisations. The Company does so whilst maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the public administrations in order to introduce any improvements deemed necessary. In this context, Red Eléctrica will maintain its dialogue policy with all administrations in order to look for the necessary balance to make the new routes viable, as they are vital for the economic and social development of the islands.
Some of the improvements requested regarding these projects entail that certain sections of line be buried underground. Except for certain exceptional cases, national legislation does not allow electricity lines to be buried underground in non-urban areas and, consequently, the Ministry does not accept the extra cost this would entail for the citizens. In addition, these installations often have a significant environmental impact and poses technical problems regarding their maintenance and the repair of line faults, with the inevitable inconvenience to the population.
Consequently, Red Eléctrica considers it essential to seek a solution among all those involved to prevent these projects from failing, as there would be unquestionable negative effects on the security and quality of the supply, the integration of renewable energies and the cost of energy on the Canary Islands.
Press Office of Red Eléctrica publishes all written and audio-visual information via the Twitter account @RedElectricaREE.
Also on Facebook through the account RedElectricaREE.