Fair Isle celebrates 24 hours power

A new renewable energy system on Fair Isle will go live today (Friday 12 October) as the community celebrates reliable 24 hours power for the first time.

The new island wide high voltage network is being delivered by an innovative renewables system combining three turbines, a ground mounted solar system and a battery storage– underpinning a range of social and economic opportunities for islanders.

The £3.5m project, which is being led by community group Fair Isle Electricity Company (FIEC), secured funding from a wide range of organisations, including £250,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse welcomed the island’s new energy system, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse said:

“Those of us living on the mainland of Scotland can often take reliable supplies of electricity for granted.  This has never been possible for the islanders of Fair Isle. The reality of having, for the first time in their history, 24-hour supplies of electricity presents exciting prospects for the Fair Isle community, who will not only benefit from access to a reliable electricity supply around the clock, but also now have in place a new cleaner, greener energy system.

“This development is yet another example of Scotland’s ability to harness its renewables potential to build a sustainable energy future which will play a significant role in powering our future, and I am proud of the role that the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have been able to play in providing 50% of the funding for this much needed project taken forward by Fair Isle Electricity Company. I wish FIEC every success and hope our investment has a truly transformational impact in improving the quality of life and economic prospects for all on Fair Isle.”

Douglas Cowan, director of Strengthening Communities at HIE, said: “This is a fantastic step forward for the community of Fair Isle which we are delighted to support along with our partners. This will make a huge difference to the community on the island. Improving Fair Isle’s local energy system supply is one of the highest priorities identified in the recent community development plan and is potentially transformational. It’s a key factor in attracting new residents to the island as well as helping businesses to develop and new employment to be created.”

The community has long recognised the importance of developing the infrastructure to sustain and grow its population of 55 people and help transform life on the island.

The three-mile long island has used a combination of wind and diesel power since the 1980s with two turbines provided the service to the island between 7.30am to 11.30pm every day.

Robert Mitchell, company director of FIEC, said: “We are absolutely delighted to get to this stage. The directors of the community owned company and residents are pleased with the support that we have had from all the funding bodies.

“As an important project in a fragile rural area, it will make a huge difference now and in the future and we hope that it will encourage more people to come and live on the island. It also provides a great opportunity for more businesses to start here. The new energy system will be cleaner and greener and will reduce reliance on expensive diesel, hence making living costs more sustainable. It’s an ambitious project and is another step in ensuring that the community of Fair Isle continues to thrive.”

Three new 60kW wind turbines have been installed on the remote island as well as a 50kW solar array and battery storage while a high voltage network has been extended across the island.

Last year, the company was successfully awarded support of over £1m for the project through the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme’s (LCITP).

LCITP is supported through the European Regional Development Fund and is a partnership programme led by the Scottish Government, with support from HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust and other sector specialists such as Resource Efficient Scotland.

The battery storage will hold 50 hours of power for the island

The Fair Isle electricity scheme has secured full match funding for the project from many partners including Big Lottery, Shetland Islands Council, National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Water, Fair Isle Electricity Company and Fair Isle Bird Observatory.

 

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