Island going green'
Topic of the practice
A fully renewable, national grid independant, electricity supply
Good Practice Information
The isle of Eigg is part of the Inner Hebrides group of islands. It is situated off the west coast of Scotland, south of the Isle of Skye, approximately 25 km from the mainland coast. The permanent population numbers less than 100. Its permanent residences number less than 50 and it has approximately 20 buildings with a commercial function and half a dozen community buildings. In 1997 the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust which is a partnership between the residents of Eigg, the Highland Council and the Scottish Wildlife Trust bought the Isle from absentee landlords for £1.5m and now manage it for the benefit of the residents and wildlife. Despite repeated requests the island has no connection to the mainland electricity grid as any scheme has always been rejected as too costly. Therefore prior to 2008 Eigg's electricity was supplied by diesel generators dependant on fuel supply from the mainland. This supply was expensive and could be delayed in bad weather.The islanders were determined to source the island’s electricity demand from renewable sources with hydroelectricity (100kWp), PV (10kWp), wind (24kWp), a high voltage distribution grid and a battery storage system. On February 1st 2008 they achieved their goal of energy independance. Individual building electricity demands are capped and automatically disconnected if breached. Re-connections attract a small charge. Energy lock-outs are rare as residents exercise energy prudence. The project cost was approximately £1.6 million funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Big Lottery, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE Lochaber), Highlands and Islands Community Energy Company, Scottish Community Households Renewables Initiative (SCHRI), Energy Saving Trust, Highland Council, Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust (IEHT) and the residents of the Isle of Eigg.
Evidence of success
Annual domestic carbon emissions on the island have fallen from 8.4 tonnes to 4.45 per household tonnes. This compares to average annual UK household emissions of 5.5-6 tonnes/year. The scheme has generated four part-time grid maintenance posts and a job -shared 'green project manager' post.The increased reliability of the electrical supply has brought benefits to tourism and trade in terms of new businesses, including restaurants, shops, guest houses and self-catering accommodation. Eigg’s achievements have been outstanding and provides a model for small scale, community based sustainable energy use. Its example demonstrates good practices in energy efficiency, demand management, community motivation and self sufficiency that have the potential to be replicated in rural areas.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice
Eigg Electric Ltd
Annex completed on: 09-01-2011