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Introducing Islands Laboratory in UCL Minds Lunch Hour Lectures

The `Island laboratory` was introduced this year, on the 22nd of October to researchers and students at a UCL Minds Lunch Hour Lectures by Prof Catalina Spataru.

The challenges which these islands face was illustrated to the audience. According to the World Bank, Maldives could be submerged by 2100. In addition, the Marshall Islands are experiencing sea levels rise and salination of their water system. Furthermore, Tuvalu is facing dangerously high peak tides, and resettlement should be seen as a mitigation option.

The hidden history of some islands were mentioned by Catalina, e.g Nutmeg Island (Indonesia) was traded for Manhattan and Angel Island was used as a quarantine and mitigation station.

The ​Islands Laboratory at UCL aims to provide in-depth insights and guidance on the problems these islands face, in addition to sustainable solutions for island nations across the world. The Islands Research Laboratory studies innovative solutions for adapting to the challenges of climate change, whilst also accelerating the development of a circular economy for these islands. We collect data, analyse and map all resource flows on islands by modelling whole (island) energy systems to assess future scenarios under different climactic conditions. The modelling of the water-energy-land-food-materials nexus allow us to explore potential trade-offs for a sustainable environment, enabling disaster resilience with sustainable business models and policies.

An Island laboratory researcher’s principal focus has been on energy (Greek Non-Interconnected Islands (2013-2020) and the Turkish Islands (2018-2020)), resource nexus (Transforming Scottish Islands into Sustainable Circular resource Hubs (2019-2022)), circular economy (Mobile Education Hub for Sustainable Islands (Aug 2019-July 2020), Circular Islands (Aug 2019-July 2020) and Mobile Education Hub for Sustainable Islands (Aug 2019-July 2020)). `Smart Energy Systems- Theory, Practice and Implementation` and ` Metrics, Modelling and Visualisation of the Resource Nexus` are teaching given by Dr Spataru.

The `Island laboratory` has 85 person years’ experience on Insular areas and more than 400 islands have been studied across the world. Mathematical models, data, survey, questionnaires, interviews and workshops are main components of case studies.

Why are islands important, why do we research islands? These questions have been answered by Prof Spataru. The main problems for these islands today are, depending on fossil fuels, the high cost for electricity production and the impact of tourism in natural resources & waste management. To solve these issues, we should bring down energy production cost, eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, and focus on energy efficiency and renewable, using available technologies. These are the important goals of island laboratory research team.

Some good island practices have been showed to audiences. Firstly, Tilos (Greece) has solar, PV and battery systems which are type of grant. Secondly, Bozcaada (Turkey) has 10.2 MW installed capacity wind turbine system which is example for FIT. It is possible to export energy to mainland from Bozcaada. It is clear to show that why improve local RE system on island is importing and essential. Finally, Interconnection of the Cycladic Islands. 51.5 TWh of Renewables for Greece by 2040, following the interconnection of the Greek islands. Costs reduction by 1-5.8 billion euros compared to the BAU case.

Climate action must be embedded in broader strategies of sustainable resource management. Non-renewable resource management is a key problem in sustainable development, in addition to water and food security, land management. Managing these resources efficiently is a key to turn those challenges into business and development opportunities.

A vision of island laboratory has been introduced which are:

  • Transferring knowledge from one island to the other

  • Optimally using islands’ resources and infrastructures

  • Islands to control their future, New business models & communities

  • Micro grids, storage, low carbon technologies,

  • Self-sufficient, sustainable, local resource use

  • Local participation local employment, community agreement

At the end of these lunch seminar, Dr Spataru was giving some recommendations for the sustainability transition which are:

  • Provide incentives for energy liberalisation

  • Develop dedicated Business models

  • Allow for RE Development

  • Improve legislation and procedures

  • Engage Local communities, Local employment, Community agreement

  • Establish mechanisms at global and local level for waste management

  • Establish resilience mechanisms

Mustafa Saglam, PhD Student

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