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Azores Island Undergoes Energy Revolution

The tiny island of Graciosa off the coast of Portugal is undergoing a silent revolution. A German company is trying to make the 4,500-strong community energy self-sufficient and independent.

Berlin-based “Younicos” wants to harness and store the power generated by the wind and the sun on a scale large enough to supply the entire island.

Company founder, Clemens Triebel describes his vision.

“We would have a place in the world where already today, the energy supply with renewables would be ensured one hundred percent, without the people living there having to suffer from poorer quality or other disadvantages compared to other industrialized countries.”

Using wind and solar power, one of the biggest challenges has always been storage. Triebel says he has solved that problem, using the world’s largest, and most reliable battery.

“It lasts 15 years and even more and we brought this battery to Europe in order to demonstrate that already today, it is possible to supply our grids with accumulators and to show that on islands, it is possible to use a high percentage of renewables.”

Tribel also believes this system has the potential to make all homes energy self-sufficient and independent.

“Our vision is that there are no large power plants with large accumulators, our vision is that the whole thing is decentralized — such as photovoltaic with twelve gigawatts already being produced in German homes. It should remain in the home.”

And the scientist hopes that once the project is concluded in 2012, no oil-bearing supertanker will ever have to stop at Graciosa again.

Bottom line: A German company is testing a giant battery which it hopes will be able to store enough solar and wind energy to supply an entire community. The trial is taking place on Portugal’s Azores island of Graciosa.