European Small Islands Federation

Archive for Aran Islands

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.”


Inis Mor threatened by ferry crisis

Aran Queen of Aran II 41

A ferry crisis is facing Inis Mor as the current service to the island is set to be withdrawn on Sunday, amid controversy over an 80 cent passenger levy.

While Irish politicians are arguing about whose fault this may be, in a matter of days, Inis Mor will be left without any service – and it’s being suggested that the Irish Navy may be forced to step in.



SMILEGOV has landed


The ESIN part of the SMILEGOV project has landed. Thanks to the 15 islands which has been a part of it and the 40 people who has worked in it, there are good results and some very interesting findings. Please have a look at the project presentation (attached) and/or study the complete island energy reports at


Aran islanders want EV’s – if prices are favourable

Axiam EV
Axiam EVs on Aran

Since 2011, an electric vehicle (EV) experiment has been conducted on the Aran islands to see if EVs would actually work on the islands and achieve an impact on energy imports, as predicted by a study. A trial of eight vehicles began in 2011 and lasted a little more than three years. The vehicles were passed to a new set of drivers each year with a total of 30 drivers participating.

The Axiam Mega ECity vehicle was chosen for its use of regenerative breaks, corrosion-resistant aluminium chassis and ABS body panels. While the vehicle has only a range of 60km its energy efficiency is considered representative of modern EVs. The vehicle uses maintenance-free gel-sealed lead batteries which was the only realistic option available at the time of the trial.

The performance of the EV was compared against that of a one-litre diesel vehicle, a Citroen C1 which is of similar weight and dimensions.

As there are no wind turbines on Aran these days, all electricity is supplied from the mainland. The electricity supplied to the EVs was matched to the CO2 intensity and wind energy content of the national electricity system for each hour period of operation. The following results were obtained:

  • An equivalent new diesel car would require three units of energy for every one unit for the EV
  • The EV energy cost was 1.9c/km and 8.7c/km for the diesel, giving a 78 per cent financial saving;
  • Wind energy content was 19 per cent, which compared with 2.8 per cent biofuels by energy in transport fleet in 2013;
  • CO2 reduction of 44 per cent was demonstrated.

The savings potential predicted for EVs by the all-electric study, where the old fleet of vehicles were considered to be replaced, are therefore confirmed by this trial.

The vehicles were removed from the island when the trial ended. Islanders adapted very well to the use of the EVs and more than 90 per cent indicated that they would like to switch to electric drive if (when) vehicle prices were favourable. Still the trial EVs were small (2 p) and needed a lot of charging. Some in the study did not feel confidant that the cars could do the length of the Island twice in one day.

Now, they are negotiating with Renault Ireland to get good prices on their “Fluence” EV model. Currently there are 3 on the island which were used when the Minister for Energy visited them earlier the year. There is is interest locally from the people who where in the trial as they are proper cars that can carry 5 and go a good distance (100 kms).

Renault EVs on Aran

Renault Fluence EV model on Aran