Community and cultural development

Step closer for innovative energy system on Fair Isle

Plans to have power 24 hours a day on Fair Isle are one step closer with the completion of the funding package.

Funding of £250,000 has been awarded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for the £2.6m project which is being led by community group, by Fair Isle Electricity Company.

Despite having a combination of wind and diesel power since the 1980s, it is presently lights-out between 11pm to 7am when there is no wind on the three mile long island.

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

Fair Isle is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the UK and lies 24 miles south of the Shetland mainland.

Only one of the existing two wind turbines is working and has been operating intermittently over the past 18 months. The scheme also has no storage ability or capacity for new customers.

The new £2.6m plan is for three 60kW wind turbines, a 50kW solar array and battery storage.

The scheme will also extend a high voltage network to the north of the island to enable grid connections to the Scottish Water treatment works, Fair Isle Bird Observatory, the airstrip and the North Haven harbour.

Great Glen Consulting was appointed as the project manager to help take forward and develop the project on Fair Isle and the technical design and engineering of the project will be carried out by Arcus.

Earlier this year, the company was successfully awarded capital stage support of over £1m for the project through the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme’s (LCITP) funding call for large scale transformational low carbon infrastructure demonstrator projects.

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

Fiona Stirling, development manager at HIE’s Shetland area team, said: “This is a key project in the development plan for Fair Isle and we are delighted to support it. Improving the island’s local energy system supply is one of the highest priorities identified in the recent community development plan.

“It’s a key factor in attracting new people to the island as well as helping businesses to develop. The new energy system will also be cleaner and greener and will reduce reliance on expensive diesel, hence making living costs more sustainable.”

Fair Isle Electricity Company director, Robert Mitchell, said: “Having a constant electricity source may help to attract more people to live in Fair Isle as well as benefit the residents. It will also bring new employment opportunities and sustain existing employment.

“The directors of the community owned company, as well as the whole community itself, are delighted with the support that the small rural community received from all the funding bodies involved. This ambitious project is the first step in ensuring that the community of Fair Isle continues to thrive.”


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