Jersey, fishing rights and the zero carbon energy opportunity for Island communities

Last week France threatened to ‘pull the plug’ on the electricity supply to Jersey, a British island in the English Channel close to the French coast, due to a dispute about fishing licences. At CREAS Energy Consulting we believe that a move towards growing energy self-sufficiency of island communities would greatly reduce their vulnerability to unusual political situations such as that in Jersey. If island economies invest in renewable energy combined with green hydrogen, as has been done on the Orkney Islands, this would enable a move away from reliance on fossil fuels, in line with zero carbon objectives that have been set out by a growing number of governments worldwide. This article sets out how such island economies could achieve energy security from zero-carbon sources.

France’s recent threat to cut electricity supplies to Jersey, due to the dispute about fishing licences caused panic and escalated the political situation because Jersey receives 95% of its electricity from France via three undersea cables. Previously, in July 2012, one of the undersea cables from France failed and was deemed irreparable requiring a complete replacement, disrupting the island’s electricity supply. Situations such as these would be eliminated if the island could produce its own energy.

The electricity that Jersey imports from France is low carbon (mainly hydroelectric and nuclear). If the island government embarked on a structured plan to produce more of their own electricity, it would be logical for the island to use renewable energies (including green hydrogen) for the following three reasons:

1. Jersey does not have any fossil fuel resources of their own, so it imports these resources (for vehicle fuel, for example), resulting in added expense and, in this scenario, it would still be reliant on third parties for supply.

2. As Jersey is already using clean energy it would be a backward step to revert to fossil fuel use, and difficult to find UK government or private funding for such ventures.

3. Jersey is tied into the UK’s 2050 net zero goal and so fully embracing use of renewable energy would allow the island to meet its obligations in this respect.

There are already some great renewable energy initiatives happening on Jersey, such as Solar PV array projects. As the ‘sunniest place in the British Isles’ with high coastal winds and one of the largest tidal ranges in the world, Jersey could comfortably aspire to provide 24/7/365 supply of energy for the island (including green hydrogen for domestic heating) from renewable sources, and even become a net exporter of surplus renewable energy as green hydrogen to the UK mainland.

Another opportunity for any island economy is the conversion of domestic waste to more valuable forms of energy. Today, Jersey’s waste is collected and transported to the UK mainland where it is recycled or put in landfill. Shipment costs add to the overall expense as well as incurring more emissions. Modern developments, such as a waste-to-synthetic jet fuel (like the project that Velocys is developing on Humberside) provide an opportunity for Jersey to supply island produced zero/low carbon aviation fuel into the St. Helier airport, eliminating the need for imported fossil-fuel based jet fuel and for the export of domestic waste.

Whilst we have shown a few examples of how the island of Jersey can drive towards energy self-sufficiency from zero- and low-carbon sources, this opportunity applies equally to any island economy. CREAS Energy Consulting has developed a software tool that can be applied to any individual island or island group and provides a structured workflow to guide local councils, planners and governments with the considerations and opportunities for decarbonisation. The software is centred around a decision tree – the island planners provide the context of their current energy situation through a series of guided questions and the software gradually builds up the various potential roadmaps for zero-carbon evolution for their local situation.

CREAS PF0 ‘Planning for Zero’ application accounts for the energy demand mix of the island and determines the potential to decarbonize domestic facilities and any industrial complexes, as well as the relative proportion of energy consumed as vehicle fuel versus domestic heating, etc. CREAS PF0 determines potential green hydrogen production from any existing and planned renewable energy projects and highlights the gap to the goal of zero carbon emissions in terms of new renewables project requirements. In parallel, CREAS specialists can carry out energy audits to compare the energy consumption of each sector versus standard benchmarks to identify ‘quick win’ energy efficiency / carbon emissions savings. The application examines: present land use and availability, renewable energy production and potential across various sources, population/population distribution and growth projections, present and projected energy mix, present and projected energy consumption, biomass-to-energy potential, waste generation/disposal/transport, as well as many other factors. The mix of these elements will be different for each island or island group and are taken into consideration to create specific plans of action for each island.

Currently, the two island groups in the UK with the most detailed and developed energy transition plans are the Orkney Islands and the Isles of Scilly. Their respective plans took years to develop and were developed in isolation of each other, although they faced and solved many of the same challenges. CREAS PF0 software builds on this heritage to avoid every island decarbonization project starting from square one each time, thereby building on the growing experience of delivering these types of project across many sectors globally.

So to conclude:

· There is huge potential for island economies globally to move away from fossil fuel consumption towards renewable energy and become self-sufficient, improve their energy security, and eliminate carbon emissions.

· CREAS Energy Consulting has cross-sectoral clean energy expertise and a proprietary ‘Planning for Zero’ PF0 software application to guide the development of a tailored project development roadmap for island economies.

For more information about CREAS Energy Consulting services or our PF0 ‘Planning for Zero’ software, please contact us at or

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