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Importing Renewable Electricity

Prior to 2000, the power station, in St Sampson was the islands only source of electricity. It operated continuously, generating electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We now know that generating electricity from the power station has both financial and environmental costs and we believe that importing affordable, sustainable and renewable electricity from Europe is the right solution for our small island with big environmental aspirations. 

We want to embrace new technologies for everyone’s benefit and enjoyment. We are transitioning from fossil fuels towards renewable energy in order to protect our environment today and for the benefit of future generations.

This is done using a sub-sea cable between Jersey and Guernsey, ‘GJ1’ which was originally installed in 2000 and transformed Guernsey’s electricity supply. It is operated and managed by The Channel Islands Electricity Grid, often referred to as the CIEG and was established in 1998 as a joint venture between Guernsey Electricity and Jersey Electricity. 

The GJ1 cable can provide 100% of Guernsey’s energy needs in summer but around 75% in winter. So the power station is now only used as a back-up for import disruptions and a top up in Winter months.

Plugging into renewables

In January 2020, we switched to imported electricity to be generated only from renewable sources

The imported electricity, previously a mix of nuclear and hydro, is now from 100% renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydroelectricity for everyone on Guernsey to benefit from. This is an exciting step for our community and shows that small jurisdictions, such as Guernsey, can lead the way in the transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy, and in doing so protect the environment for future generations.   

Renewable energy shouldn’t be an elective choice. We believe it should be for all, delivered straight to your door. 

 

How importing renewables works

Generally, across Europe the electricity market is structured around a grid. The European grid is supplied from a mix of electricity generated from all types of energy including solar, wind, hydro, coal, gas and nuclear. However, despite being generated differently, all electricity is indistinguishable by source once it’s in the grid.

 

How do we guarantee it is really from renewables?

There are methods to control what type of electricity is put into the grid for us to take out and use.

We receive reassurance directly with our supplier, who provides certificates to guarantee the source of electricity. These are called ‘Guarantee of Origin’ certificates (GoO’s). They are issued with every unit of renewable electricity generated so they act as a tracking system from electricity generation to consumption by recording where and how the electricity was generated.

This is the optimum solution for Guernsey. There is sometimes scepticism around green certifications which can be purchased through many different suppliers without a clear link to the source. However, Guernsey Electricity has specifically chosen to receive the GoO’s directly from our electricity supplier rather than a third party to ensure a transparent process between the energy production and us using it. The GoO market in France is appropriately regulated to give further assurance and protect against issues such as double counting.

We’ve always received certificates to show the source of each megawatt hour used by the island and our switch has changed this to require this only be from renewable source. The more suppliers of electricity request specific sources of generation, such as renewables, the more the generators will invest in such technologies.

At the end of each year, Guernsey Electricity receive assurance in the form of GoO certificates that the total amount of electricity we used from the grid was generated by renewable energy and supplied into it. Find out more about how this works here.

 

Where our electricity came from in 2020

In 2020, Guernsey's imported provided more than 93% of Guernsey’s electricity needs.

Find out exactly how and where this was generated here.

 

Goo 2020 stats

Our future vision

Our Environmental Vision is “to make a positive contribution to our island environment for today and for the benefit of future generations”.

When electricity demand is at its greatest, the GJ1 import cable alone does not meet the Island's electricity needs. It can provide 100% of Guernsey’s energy needs in summer and around 75% in winter, so the power station is still required as both a top-up and back-up.

Longer-term, Guernsey Electricity is committed to providing the island with 100% renewable and sustainable electricity with the installation of a second cable direct to France, supplemented by local community-scale renewable electricity from solar arrays.

 

Direct connections to France

We are aiming to have a 100MW direct cable link to France installed by 2025. The benefit of two cable links will help meet the Island’s demand for secure sustainable, environmentally friendly and affordable electricity. It will allow us to meet around 99% of Guernsey's current and future energy needs and dramatically decarbonise our electricity.

It will also provide grid stability and support more locally generated renewable energy. Without the second connection, the hydrocarbon power station would remain as our back-up.

 

Will we still need the power station in the future?

The import cable alone does not meet the islands electricity needs when energy demand is at its greatest. The GJ1 cable can provide 100% of Guernsey’s energy needs in summer and around 75% in winter, so the power station is still required as both a top-up for the winter peak periods and as a back-up when the GJ1 interconnector requires to be switched off for maintenance.

Guernsey Electricity’s long-term strategy is for an energy system that supports renewables and reduces the reliance on fossil fuels to use the power station for emergency generation only.

Before a second interconnector cable link direct to France is installed the power station will still be required to ‘top-up’ supplies during winter periods, and providesa ‘back-up’ in the event of any issues with the GJ1 interconnector cable.

This second cable would mean that the power station will no longer need to ‘top-up’ supplies and will act purely as a ‘back-up’ for emergencies

Guernsey Electricity also supplement the imported electricity with community scale solar energy. We generate over 358 kW of electricity into the Guernsey network for all of our customers to use. We believe in renewables for all.