Climate protection through the use of renewable energies on the Galapagos Islands, with special focus on power generation using jatropha oil (ENERGAL)

Project description

Title: Climate protection through the use of renewable energies on the Galapagos Islands, with special focus on power generation using jatropha oil (ENERGAL)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Country: Ecuador
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy (MEER)
Overall term: 2012 to 2015

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands: Training of technicians during the commissioning of the new biofuel generators on Floreana. © GIZ


As an ecosystem recognised by UNESCO, the Galapagos Islands are threatened by an unreliable, CO2-intensive power supply, which is derived almost exclusively from thermal energy.

The Ecuadorian Government’s ‘Zero fossil fuels on the Galapagos Islands’ policy aims to fully convert the archipelago’s energy supply to renewable energies by 2020. This policy revolves around more efficient energy consumption, use of wind and solar power, and the replacement of fossil fuels by pure vegetable oils. It is planned to use the oil of Ecuador’s native plant, Jatropha Curcas, as a biofuel.


Power supply on the Galapagos Islands has converted to an appropriate mix of renewable energies. Generators running on jatropha oil play a key role in sustainable energy, environmental protection and the reduction of greenhouse gases.


The project is part of the Ecuadorian Government’s national policy of ‘Zero fossil fuels on Galapagos’.

  1. Renewable energies: power supply and the grid on the Floreana Island
    Based on a feasibility study carried out by GIZ in 2008, the Ecuadorian Government is converting the power supply on Floreana Island to renewable energy. A hybrid system integrates two renewable sources of energy, deriving power from a solar facility and from generators that run on jatropha oil. This system is to be expanded to form Ecuador’s first smart electricity grid.
  2. A supply of jatropha oil
    The financially viable production of jatropha oil by smallholder farmers meets the demands of the power generators in terms of both quantity and quality. At the same time, the oil production helps farmers to diversify their incomes and drive sustainable rural development in the Manabi province.
  3. Renewable energy: knowledge management
    Knowledge transfer and the exchange of lessons learned by Ecuador and Germany in the area of renewable energies and the use of jatropha as a biofuel help to promote knowledge management and the development of networks.

Results achieved so far

  • Following on from an earlier project that ran from 2008 to 2011, this project carried out another study trip and education, planning and training measures. Participants are now better able to support and coordinate the implementation of the government’s ‘Zero fossil fuels on Galapagos’ programme.
  • Between 2012 and 2013, several training courses were carried out for 160 or so employees from municipal administrations and energy utilities and for politicians. As a result, enough suitably qualified staff are available to support renewable energy projects at the administrative and policy level.
  • The training measures have had a measurable and positive effect on improving the efficiency of ongoing projects on energy efficiency, generating power from renewable sources, and optimising the use of resources both on the Galapagos Islands and on the mainland.
  • On Floreana Island, two converted generators that run on jatropha oil have been providing up to 100% of the island’s electricity from renewable energy since February 2011. This is the first of the Galapagos Islands to achieve this goal. In Manabi province, the jatropha harvest increased fivefold between 2009 and 2011. In 2012/13, the yield was enough to meet annual demand for biodiesel on Floreana, but also to power newly installed generators on Isabela Island.
  • In 2012, a mobile jatropha oil press was commissioned in Portoviejo, enabling some 3,000 small-scale producers to earn an additional annual income of around USD 50. Moreover, the underlying conditions for the production of jatropha are improving substantially. Another milestone in achieving the ‘Zero fossil fuels on Galapagos’ policy is the consolidation of a business to produce and distribute jatropha nuts. This process was supported by technical advice and by 13 training measures for 50 smallholders. The 15 women who took part in these measures will pass on their know-how as multipliers in 2014.
  • Further evidence of the project’s sustainability is that the Isabela project is now being implemented by the energy ministry in cooperation with KfW Development Bank on behalf of BMZ. The basic experiences of the project on Floreana are being transferred to Isabela, where they are also being scaled up by developing a production and supply chain for jatropha and installing a thermal photovoltaic hybrid grid (a smart grid).

Additional information