GeoTenerife Hosts Energy Sustainability Conference at Royal Automobile Club

GeoTenerife Hosts Energy Sustainability Conference at Royal Automobile Club
Yareah Magazine

Scientific field-trip organisers GeoTenerife ( hosted a conference on sustainable energy on the island of Tenerife at the RAC Club at Pall Mall on Friday 2 May 2014.

Sharon Backhouse with Tenerife ministers

Sharon Backhouse with Tenerife ministers

The conference was well-attended by UK-based companies specialising in various areas of renewable energy, along with representatives from charities and educational institutes.

They were joined by members of the Cabildo de Tenerife, with Miguel Diaz Llanos (Councillor responsible for Energy) and Eduardo Pintado Mascareno (Councillor responsible for Commerce) attending on behalf of the island.

Also present were delegates from the embassies of Ghana, Guinea and Mauritania, all of which have shown an interest in Tenerife’s Africa TREE Project.

Sharon Backhouse, director of GeoTenerife and the event host, said, “There are a number of fabulous business collaborations available for British companies.

“People often see Tenerife as nothing more than a holiday destination, but there is so much more to the island than people realise, and hopefully our guests will make the most of these opportunities.”

The conference started with the attendees being addressed by President Carlos Alonso of the Island Government of Tenerife, who said, “We are keen to welcome scientists and students who wish to come to our small yet perfect paradise.

“Our sun, wind and waves are inexhaustible resources that we can no longer afford to waste.”

The Councillor responsible for Energy, Miguel Diaz Llanos, gave an informative talk on the various initiatives implemented by the Tenerife government. He specifically called for UK investors to submit tenders for their proposed RFP for a waste-to-energy project, full details of which will be announced by the Cabildo de Tenerife next month. 

GeoTenerife has already received several requests for more information on this and potential solar energy investment on the island, and is currently organising investor trips to the island for UK companies that are keen to learn more and meet the relevant authorities. (If interested, contact:

After the initial speech, delegates were then treated to talks from a range of Tenerife’s scientists, who spoke to the audience about their innovative projects and the sustainable potential of the island of Tenerife.

The director of the Technological and Renewable Energy Institute (ITER), Guillermo Galvan, spoke about the institute’s work on bioclimatic houses in Tenerife, which make use of the natural elements to great effect.

“Bioclimatic architecture tries to recapture the old dialogue of the house with the outside world, especially to reduce the consumption of water and energy,” he said.

“This dialogue has a particular relevance to the kind of sustainable tourism Tenerife is trying to develop.”

ITER is learning a great deal from the neighbourhood of 24 bioclimatic houses that they built and are now renting out to tourists. “Having them occupied is perfect for us, it makes them the perfect laboratory. We can study how the bioclimatic houses perform, and make any adjustments necessary,” said Galvan.

The director of the Africa TREE (Total Renewable Energy Efficiency) Project, Carlos Pérez, delivered a talk on how the project will work as a joint venture between Tenerife and Mauritania, and the benefits of these projects for the future.

“We are looking for partners. The idea is to work sensitively in Africa, with a project that will earn a healthy return for investors, both local and foreign,” he said. The project is being developed in collaboration with the Cabildo de Tenerife, and draws on a number of local specialists and innovators. 

The idea is to establish a sustainable village, with the relevant technology to provide renewable energy and distilled water, but also to run a sustainable hotel as part of the project, to attract tourists sensitive to the area’s needs and provide a healthy return to investors.

Dr. Nemesio Pérez, the director for the environment at ITER, and Coordinator of the Volcano Institute, Involcán, then gave a fascinating talk on the geothermal potential of the island, and how they can make use of the Mt. Teide volcano, the third largest in the world.

He told the audience: “If we could only tap less than 1% of the potential energy held in the earth’s crust, we could supply all our energy needs for 13,500 years.”

He explained that although geothermal testing had been done in Tenerife before, with disappointing results, new understanding and techniques meant that he had identified that the areas tested were not in the right place. He outlined his reasoning for identifying what he now thinks are the key places to test, and underscored that Tenerife’s geothermal “really is very good.”

After lunch, the visitors were treated to another address, this time from Alpido Armas, President of the Island Government of El Hierro. Mr Armas is actively working to ensure that El Hierro become’s the world’s first territory to be 100% sustainable for its energy needs. “Yes, it is possible! When our Gorona del Viento projects gets up and running in June, we will depend solely on wind and fresh water for our energy needs.”

He outlined other sustainable projects and called for international partners, details of which can seen by viewing the address on GeoTenerife’s YouTube channel.

The first talk of the afternoon session was conducted by Javier Pérez Marrero, from the Sustainability Observatory for the Biosphere of El Hierro, who discussed the sustainability of biospheres in the province of Tenerife through the use of smart ICT tools to control them. Although specialised, his talk gave us an insight into a highly sophisticated instrument of great value to fragile Biosphere reserves like El Hierro.

The talk showed how anybody can use these tools in order to increase economic development in these areas without providing a detrimental effect to the environment.

The final talk of the day was conducted by Theo Hernando Olmo, the managing director of Agua de Niebla, a company that developed and built innovative technology to collect and bottle cloud water for drinking. The audience fell in love with the romantic notion of collecting pure water from Tenerife’s cloud layer, which is low in pollutants and minerals.

When asked about how his technology could be applied to the UK market, Mr Hernando Olmo said, “The UK has some really exciting areas where this technology could be applied, especially in areas over 700m. And we will be happy to talk to anyone interested in developing this technology for the British market.”

In fact, GeoTenerife has already been approached by several companies looking to collaborate with Mr Olmo, specifically in the tea and whisky lines, as the water is so pure it does not affect the taste of either. 

The day finished with a quintessentially British High Tea in the Terrace Room, giving everyone one last chance to mingle and exchange knowledge before heading home.

The conference was deemed a success, with a good turn-out and a strong selection of interesting speakers, and GeoTenerife is particularly excited about the possible spinoffs that will come from the event.

For those interested, all the speakers’ presentations will be available on GeoTenerife’s YouTube channel by the end of the week on the GeoTenerife YouTube channel ( 

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