European Small Islands Federation

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

This quote, often (falsely) attributed to Winston Churchill, fits well to special advisor Brendan Devlin’s ambitions for the meeting arranged in Brussels on the 5-6th of March 2018. The topic was the clean energy for EU Islands Initiative, the purpose was to listen to the islanders and Brendan Devlin has a particular interest in the EU islands’ potential for faster decarbonisation.

DG ENER’s vision is to speed up the EU countries’ move from fossil fuel dependency and they are starting with the islands.

15 million

Setting up a secretariat

Anna Colucci, Head of unit DG ENER opened the meeting which was attended by about 30 participants, representing both islands and EU institutions. How can we make the decarbonizing of all European the islands work? was the question asked, considering that islands are now seen as innovation leaders in this field. The Commission will set up a Clean Energy Islands Secretariat in Brussels. The 2 year secretariat with a budget of 2 millions will carry out benchmarking studies, awareness rasing and capacity building for islands decarbonization plans.

After this period, the intention is to replace the secretariat with an Island Facility through a tender or call within Horizon 2020 which will be worth 10 Millions euros.

A holistic view on energy

It was stressed that the energy concept covers energy in a broad and holistic perspective: it means heating, cooling, electricity, transport on islands and to and from islands as well as blue energy.  It is important not isolate energy from other issues, but to find and use synergies. “Good solutions are welcomed, not only future solutions”, said Brendan Devlin . “What is better might not be what is best, it has to be better than today´s situation.” Highlighting best practice being very important, to that end, presentations from the island of Öland’s biogas scheme and the ambitious wind and desalination schemes in the Canaries were made which elicited very good feedback.

Speakers from DG ENER, DG REGIO, DG CLIMA, DG INNOVATION AND RESEARCH DG ENVIRONMENT, all contributed their various perspectives, including simplification for administrations for new projects (where ESIN has been active) and the obligatory task for member states to have a One-Place-Stop for contacts/new projects.

Small islands are included

The issue of the smaller islands not being visible at NUTS level is taken into consideration as within the NUTs area definition there are only 700 islands when there in fact are 2,000 more, making a total of 2,700.

Denis & Camille.jpg

Denis Bredin and Camille Dressler, ESIN

What do islands want?

The islands were asked what were their main issues:

– ESIN, represented by chairman Camille Dressler and Denis Bredin from AIP/France, said the smaller island communities perspective is really important, making sure smaller renewable energy suppliers had access to the market and were able to reap the benefits locally.

– From the Netherlands, how to involve the user side of the energy issues was the question, It was not all about the supplier.

– The Balearic islands explained their plans for the further development of their ecotourism tax and a goal of total decarbonization by 2050 hampered by lack of national political will.

– The Greek islands would like DG ENER to consider microfinance and project consultation for smaller projects not just big ones as in Horizon2020 as a number of islands are very small and do not have the resources to participate in large projects.

– Storage was the main issue for the Azores.

– Cyprus wanted to see more cooperation between citizens and local authorities.

– The Faroes islands want to decarbonize their fishing fleet.

We appreciated DG ENER’s will to sit down and listen. This two-way discussion was promising, and another meeting is planned after the summer which will include a travel budget. In the meantime, DG ENER wants to hear from as many islands associations and organisations as possible.

There is a difference between listening and just waiting for your turn to speak. Thank you Brendan.

Brendan Devlin

Brendan Devlin, DG ENER


“No man is an island” — but what is an island? And why might you set a poem, a novel, a philosophical utopia there?

Marc Shell explores the geography, rhetoric, and politics of islands, from the mythical Atlantis to contemporary environmental disasters.

“Islandology” offers not only new ways to think about islands, but also why and how we think by means of them.

MARC SHELL is the Irving Babbitt Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, where he also serves as Faculty Associate at the Center for the Environment. He is the author of a dozen books, on topics ranging from nationalism and economics to multilingualism and disability studies.

Co-sponsored by: English, Environmental Studies & Sciences, Latin American and Latinx Studies Program, Modern Languages and Literatures, Political Economy, the Project for the Study of Liberal Democracy, and Phi Beta Kappa.


“Water saving project results presented in Zagreb

A project and a team to wish for! Luckily, the second phase is yet to begin! 😉 says Ivan Matic, project officer at Tonino Picula’s office.


The web page will be up and running next week. You will be able to download the book, many more examples of water saving, templates and the eight field studies.


Cars fueled by hydrogen will be tested on Aran Islands


The SEAFUEL project, aimed at developing the use of hydrogen as a renewable energy source, has been launched by NUI Galway. It will see a fleet of cars powered by the fuel take to the roads in the Aran Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Canary Islands.

The €3.5 million three year project aims to promote and support the shift towards a low-carbon economy by showing how it is feasible to power local transport networks using the hydrogen.

In particular the team wants to demonstrate the viability of producing, distributing and using the gas generated by renewable energy and sea water in Atlantic areas.

The €3.5m project led by NUI Galway will also see construction of a hydrogen plant on the Canary Islands, where up to 25kg of hydrogen gas a day will be produced, sufficient to power up to 10 commercially-available cars with a maximum range of 600km. The hydrogen will be generated using seawater and solar panels, and if successful, similar plants could be installed in offshore and isolated communities, including the Aran Islands.

The project is also being piloted in Madeira in Portugal.

Dun Aengus the prehistoric

The project aims to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions, particle matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in line with the Clean Air Programme for Europe 2008/50/EC, and provide a pathway for isolated regions to become energetically independent, leading to future installations in other Atlantic regions. An alternative fuels model for islands will be developed to fulfil the requirements that each of the partner regions propose for their ‘Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS3), aimed at low carbon economy and efficient use of marine resources.

Dr Pau Farràs from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, sais the project is aimed at establishing a business model to help offshore communities reduce energy imports.

“The plan for the project is to study if this model is a viable business model to export to other places within the islands and other regions,” he said.

“The Aran Islands already has electric vehicles, and we are looking at other possibilities including heat, but also for boats and ferries. We are focused on the islands because they are so dependent on imports.

“This is a carbon-free fuel which will be good for the island and will break the dependency.”


A place to Bere in mind

Bere island lies in Bantry Bay, in the shadow of the famous Hungry Hill though with a high point of 267m at Knockallig is no mere pancake itself.

Bere Island is the second largest Irish island when islands connected by causeways or bridges are discounted. It is outranked only by Inishmore. In terms of population it is also the second ranked according to the same criterion with 216 people (2011 census). In common with other large islands it was once inhabited by over 1,000 people and peaked in 1926 with 1,182.

Bere island school-2

Islanders and best friends, Michael Orpen and Aoife Walsh, Bere Island, West Cork, running to rehearsals in the local heritage centre for their annual Nativity School Play. Michael played the part of Joseph and Aoife played the part of Mary in this year’s schools production on the Island
Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan

And where many islands have dwindling populations with few activities, the phenomenal community spirit of Bere Island binds the island together as well as bringing in many visitors for these events. The list of activities upcoming for 2018 would put many large towns to shame. Some of the events planned include a religious retreat at Easter, an islands’ festival in June, Children’s summer camp in July, A Heritage Week in August and the All-Island football tournament in September. With hotels, B&Bs, Airbnbs, bars, cafes, restaurants and its Bakehouse Cafe with its sizzling garlic prawns, the over-riding impression of Bere Island is of a thriving
island community.

Scoil Mhicil Naofa is the school on Bere Island, which in the early 1900s, once had a total of three schools. It is the ’last school standing’ in Bantry Bay’s islands with two teachers and 18 pupils.

West Cork’s islands are taking a population battering, with Sherkin Island’s school closing, after 124 years’ service to the community, in 2016. Whiddy and Dursey also had their own schools. The school on Whiddy Island closed in 1947 with seven children on the roll, and the Dursey Island school was forced to close in 1975 when there were just five pupils left.

Principal of Deirdre Ní Dhonnchada explains how, as with all small rural schools, maintaining numbers is a constant issue: ‘This year five pupils will be leaving to start secondary school in Castletownbere and we have only three children due to start school.  We currently don’t have anyone in second class, as there was no intake that year,’ she said.

Principal Ní Dhonnchada and Katrina Ladden both live on the mainland and travel onto the island every day by ferry.  Support teacher Caoimhe Healy joins them two days a week.  Katrina teaches junior infants to second class, and Deirdre teaches third to sixth classes, with school secretary Marion O’Sullivan keeping everything running smoothly.

Bere island school-1

Sonia O’Sullivan with Bere Island national school                       Photo Niall Duffy @WestCorkPhoto

Physical activity is a big part the curriculum. Deirdre Ní Dhonnchada says: ‘We were actually one of the first schools in Beara to start weekly swimming lessons.’

Once a week, the children travel to the Westlodge Hotel in Bantry for their lesson. ‘Being on an island just means it takes a bit of extra planning. Whereas a mainland school needs to organise a bus to Bantry, we need to organise a boat to get us to the bus!’

Deirdre Ní Dhonnchada feels that ultimatley teaching in an island school doesn’t pose any major challenges. ‘It all takes a little bit more planning, but the very nature of an island community means that people always rally round to help out. The school is very much part of the community here, and we know anytime we need any assistance in arranging something, we only have to put the word out, and it happens.’

See earlier blogs (Norway) and (Clare Island and Sweden).

Many thanks to the Southern Star and the Irish Examiner:

Islands from above

Looking up at the sky to enjoy the diversity and beauty of clouds is a pastime as ancient as humanity itself. Yet only during the past century—thanks to the Wright brothers and other pioneering aviators—have we had the ability to look down on clouds from above.

A top-down view of clouds has led to important advances in meteorology and atmospheric science. These images shows pictures of the Canary Islands taken from satellites. The first image shows forest fires in 2007, the second image is from 2013.

Forest fires on Canary Islands NASA Aqua 2007Canary Islands NASA Terra satellite 2013

Sometimes satellite pictures show nature’s simple beauty. On May 20, 2015, the MODIS camera on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the third image of several cloud vortices swirling downwind of the Canary Islands and Madeira.

Canary Islands May 2015 B

Theodore von Kármán, a Hungarian-American physicist, was the first to describe the physical processes that create long chains of spiral eddies like the ones shown above. Known as von Kármán vorticesthe patterns can form nearly anywhere that fluid flow is disturbed by an object. In this case, the unique flow occurs as winds rush past the tall peaks on the volcanic islands. As winds are diverted around these high areas, the disturbance in the flow propagates downstream in the form of vortices that alternate their direction of rotation.

You can find NASA images and animations of our planet at

Islands are beautiful not only to live upon but also to observe from far up.

Under stjärnorna


Islands Initiative Secretariat

Winter Island Stockholm

Thanks to the remarkable and unfailing work of Kostas Komninos and Alkisti Florou at DAFNI, the consortium in which ESIN is one of 26 partners and which is headed by CPMR, has submitted our application for the Islands Initiative Secretariat (re Call for Tenders ENER/B#2017-462). Small islands are part of a major European initiative.