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Fostering research excellence
in EU Outermost Regions

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Discover research and innovation in Outermost regions: Assets and challenges; Research and innovation communities; projects and research initiatives; infrastructures, events and news


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Climate change and Energy transition


Outermost Regions, pioneers in Renewable Energy

Challenges :

OR have excellent renewable energy resources but they are not being used to their full extent for technical, economic and legislative barriers. Legislative barriers are mostly at national level.

The situation among OR is heterogeneous, with renewable penetrations in the electricity grid ranging from 1.5% (St Martin) to 64% (Guyane). Most ORs have set targets of 50% renewable electricity by 2020, and the French ORs aim to get to 100% by 2030. To reach these challenging limits, the current frameworks for implementation of renewable energies in all the ORs need to be improved. One of the reasons of these big differences in RES penetration is the existence of non- variable renewables (hydro + geothermal) in some ORs.

Some barriers /challenges that might be taken into account are:

  • Economic: Unbundling of electricity markets in very small islands / isolated territories preventing the implementation of sector-coupled integrated solutions. Non-liberalised market in large islands / isolated territories posing barriers for equal access to the clean energy transition. Insufficient economic incentives for RES and hybrid projects in interconnected islands / isolated territories. Lack of one-stop shop services. Heavy weight of transport in the energy mix (higher decarbonisation challenge)
  • Regulatory: Heavy bureaucracy in licensing. Lack of regulatory framework for ancillary services provision from energy storage units. Lack of regulatory framework for V2G. Lack of integrated land use planning and management structures for different economic activities resulting in projects stalling. Restrictions for integrating innovative technologies in highly-protected areas (historical sites, NATURA sites, etc.) Lack of supportive legislative framework for energy communities.
  • Technical: Inefficient grid capacity resulting in significant curtailment of RES production in interconnected islands / isolated territories. Lack of experience of operating non-interconnected systems with high penetration of intermittent renewables. Insufficient, expensive and non-tested small scale solutions. Delays in deployment of smart metering infrastructure.
  • Finance: No stable long-term mechanism that provides clear pricing signals to stimulate the energy transition on islands / isolated territories. Financial sustainability of citizen-centred schemes not always ensured resulting in local disengagement. Lack of experience with alternative financing schemes (energy communities, third party financing). Lack of coordination in combining public funds with private investments. Funding for infrastructure supporting the deployment of innovative technologies is difficult to assure.
  • Governance: System complexity represents a challenge for local ownership and scale. Weak multilevel and multilateral governance resulting in limited engagement and ownership from local population.

Assets of the Outermost Regions :

The Outermost Regions have been pioneers in the implementation of Renewable Energy (pilot) projects in isolated system (with relevant success stories), where all types of Renewable Energy Technologies are present.

According to the latest OR Communication (2017), OR are frontrunners of the clean energy transition and examples for the rest of islands of the EU. Moreover, ORs have created an Energy Network to promote the accelerated development of renewable energies in the OR by means of the active coordination among competent Public Administration Bodies, Technology Centers and Universities of the different Regions.

All of this advances are possible due to the ORs are natural and sustainable laboratories of innovative energy technologies that can serve as models for the whole world in terms of impact and replicability. For all of these reasons, ORs have specific mentions in the new EC Renewable Energy Directive.

Fields of investigations/expertise : 

Given the variety of the OR and the existence of all types of energy resources, ORs cover almost the entire range of energy technologies (both conventional as well as non-conventional one).

The fields of investigations/expertise are:

  • Energy efficiency, both thermal and electric, incl. bioclimatic architecture.
  • Integration of variable renewables in (isolated) electricity grids.
  • Small- and medium scale stand-alone energy systems.
  • Smart grids, incl. micro- and mini-grids and hybrid systems.
  • Transport electrification/decarbonisation.
  • “New” renewable energies such as high enthalpy geothermal energy, off-shore wind energy, wave energy, ocean thermal energy conversion…
  • Energy storage.

Climate change and Energy transition in a few numbers

OR in the Clean Energy Initiative