E.ON and its partners have selected 28 innovative projects on European islands that they will support through the NESOI facility. NESOI (New Energy Solutions Optimised for Islands) is a Horizon2020 project, set up by the European Commission, aiming to enable a cost-effective and faster energy transition on European islands. The selected projects are expected to advance the production of energy from renewable sources, reduce emissions by around 300 kilotonnes of CO2 per year and improve energy infrastructure on the islands.

Island settings are known to have excellent environmental conditions for generating renewables like wind, solar or wave energy – but many lack the infrastructure to allow these sustainable resources owing to challenges such as weaker grids compared to those on the mainland and inadequate energy storage options. Because of this, many islands obtain their electricity primarily from diesel generators, leading to high greenhouse gas emissions and prices that can be up to 10 times higher than on the mainland. 

There are around 2400 inhabited islands in Europe. To support them in driving their energy transition, the European Commission has launched NESOI. It supports island municipalities and private entities in obtaining the necessary technical and financial infrastructure for the effective creation of their own energy transition plans. The multidisciplinary NESOI consortium is made up of 10 experienced partners from seven different EU member states – E.ON represents the energy industry and provides electricity network expertise. 

On 26 May, the consortium announced the selection of 28 projects (from 117 submissions) that will receive financial and technical suppott. The selected projects are geographically spread across the European islands and include two projects from the Baltic region, five from the Atlantic region, seven from the West Mediterranean region and fourteen from the East Mediterranean region. The projects are expected to generate investments from a wide range of stakeholders amounting to a combined total of close to 1 billion euro.

Almost all the 28 initiatives will involve the production of energy from re-newable energy sources, mainly focusing on photovoltaics but also wind, pumped hydro and tidal energy. In addition, they will focus on various topics such as energy storage systems, sustainable mobility solutions and energy planning, to name just a few. 

In total, the estimated primary energy savings generated by the 28 projects come to 541.5 GWh/year. CO2 reduction is expected to be 300 ktonnes per year. E.ON will support six projects spread across 14 European islands. These projects will contribute to around a fifth of the expected CO2 and energy savings, amounting to 63 ktonnes CO2 and 114 GWh per year. E.ON Innovation evaluates in particular how the existing network infrastructure of these islands can cope with the expected high shares of renewable power to be installed. This contribution is key as European islands will very soon face technical challenges which the mainland will only start experiencing in the next five to 10 years. 

The second call for applications opens in autumn 2021. Island authorities and legal private entities can submit their project ideas until December 2021. The second group of selected projects will be announced in spring 2022.