Project background

Following concerns of the population regarding air quality due to a new coal fired power plant on the Dutch coast, Borkum started on a path towards renewable energy many years ago. Yet the challenges associated with the intermittent nature of power supplied by such renewable sources currently remain: Consumption peaks cannot be met by solar and wind energy and expensive grid electricity needs to be bought in. Vice versa, peak generation leads to energy exports at unfavourable conditions. A logical step to tackle this challenge is to investigate energy storage, which was indeed the research objective of the previous Horizon 2020 NETfficient project coordinated by partner AYESA.

The NETfficient project:

  • Begun in 2015 and finished by the end of 2018.
  • Validated several types of local storage technologies in combination with photovoltaic production in the electricity grid of Borkum, increasing their readiness levels through extensive prototype testing
  • Deployed distributed photovoltaic installations adding up to 279 kWp and a power-to-heat aquarium installation

To a greater or lesser extent, geographical islands today are facing several challenges posed by the objective of achieving zero-emission energy systems. Within this framework, the overall goal of the ISLANDER project is to make substantial progress towards a fully decarbonised, smart geographical island which will pave the way to other European Follower islands towards a zero-emissions energy system.

ISLANDER will run for 4 years, ending in September 2024. The project is coordinated by Spanish partner AYESA and consists of a total of 11 organisations from 7 European countries. It has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 957669. The European Commission is co-funding the project with nearly€ 7 million.

ISLANDER in a nutshell

ISLANDER paves the way for the decarbonization of EU islands’ energy systems by demonstrating smart grid solutions combining renewable energy production with storage technologies in real-life settings. Starting with the Pilot island of Borkum, the project aims at replicating these solutions to 4 Follower Islands. The objectives of ISLANDER are as follows:


  • The development of an advanced smart IT platform using latest mathematical optimisation techniques, and which will flexibly manage Distributed Energy Resources (DER) coupled with Hybrid Energy Storage (HES) while also incorporating Demand Response (DR) and Local Power Balancing (LPB). This will provide a powerful approach to make the most of the renewable generation, to interconnect the electrical and heat grids, and to enhance the stability of the island’s power network.


  • The development of an improved multi-scale forecasting methodology relying on comprehensive modelling of demand and supply and on the recent advances of machine learning, in order to deliver high-accuracy forecasting data at the multiple levels required by the optimisation algorithms running the smart IT platform.


  • The development of a methodology for the large-scale design of optimal distributed DER+HES systems which, in combination with the planned smart IT platform, will optimise investment and operation costs to reach and even, surpass cost parity with fossil fuel energy sources in the island.


  • The facilitation of the creation of an energy community on Borkum, that empower local citizens to support and participate in Borkum’s energy transition.


  • The replication of the ISLANDER results to the Follower islands and the associated archipelagos: the Scottish island of Orkney, the Greek islands of Skopelos and Lefkada, and the Croatian island of Cres.

Demonstration of smart grid solutions in operational environment on Borkum island

Project duration: 4 years from October 2020 – September 2024

7 EU countries represented by 11 organisations: research centres, SMEs, and large enterprises

About € 8,3M total budget, co-funded with € 7M by the European Commission

4 Followers Islands: Cres (Croatia), Lefkada and Skopelos (Greece), Orkney (UK)