« Scottish Island Transitions From No Grid to 85-Percent Renewable Energy in 6 Years

Source: Brandon Baker | February 17, 2014 ECOWATCH

The island with just 85 residents has transitioned from having no grid in 2008 to now making energy—mostly clean—available to everybody. In 1997, Eigg became the first island in Scottish history to be bought by its inhabitants, and now it dreams of being the first island in the world powered by renewable energy.

“It varies from year to year depending on weather conditions, but we are getting between 85 and 90 percent of our energy from renewables,” Maggie Fyffe, secretary of the Eigg Heritage Trust, told Al Jazeera.

“There are miles and miles of underground cable connecting every house to the grid.”

The island’s renewable portfolio includes a 100 kilowatt (kW) hydro electric generator supported by two smaller generators; four 6-kW wind generators; and 30kW of solar cells. According to the island trust, the overall control of the power generation of the system relies on a bank of batteries connected to the distribution grid through a series of linked inverters. The inverters allow energy to flow from the batteries and the grid. They adjust depending upon the balance of demand and supply to maintain the charge of the batteries. »

On the Island website, Islanders explains: Together we decided, in 2008, to reduce our use of fossil fuels, and to make the most of our island’s natural assets.  We are adapting our way of life to depend less on oil and coal. Less fossil fuels, more efficient use of what we use, insulation, transport alternatives, reducing all waste and growing as much as we can are all parts of our approach.  We are ambitious to ensure what we do locally not only helps to secure our own future, but also for our wider world.

Our project is a world leader in the integration of multiple renewable energy sources into a grid system to supply an isolated and scattered small community.

 This project has been conceived and driven by the enthusiasm of the whole community of the Isle of Eigg, and is the culmination of 10 years of achievement since the purchase of the island in 1997.When it was recognised that conventional mains power was not a practicable proposition, the islanders decided to create and run their own all island electricity system; a system that was to  depend as much as possible upon renewable resources. 

The system that has been created through the vision of the islanders, generates power at a number of locations around the island, from the renewable resources of Hydro Electric, Wind and Solar energy, and makes this available to all households and businesses via an  island wide high voltage distribution grid. The renewable resources will contribute over 95% of the island’s electricity demand and it is believed to be the first time that these three resources have been successfully integrated into a community grid system. 

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