Eigg goes green

The Isle of Eigg has become a shining light for renewable energy. Realising that conventional power would not be a sustainable way forward, islanders decided to branch out and generate as much as 95% of their energy from renewable sources. Now, the island has been decorated with a Green Energy Award in recognition of its efforts.

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Windmills help to produce 95% of this island's energy from renewable sources Windmills help to produce 95% of this island's energy from renewable sources

“Since the commissioning of the Eigg wide green electric system, my life as local shopkeeper and guest house owner has been made so much simpler.  It is wonderful to know that freezers and chillers full of valuable stock are unlikely to perish in the event of generator failure.  It is also great to be able to operate simple solar powered heating systems using electric pumps.”
Sue Kirk, Proprietor Eigg Shop and Lageorna Guest House

As a result of the initiative, Eigg’s power comes principally from hydroelectric, wind and solar energy. This is a staggering result in the light of the island’s tiny size (31 km2) and is a glowing testament to the expertise and knowledge of its residents.

Harnessing nature’s resources

Energy feeds into the island’s grid system, providing power to the region’s homes, businesses and community buildings. The major renewable energy source is a 100 kW hydroelectric generator. This is supported by two smaller generators of 10 kW and 9 kW, four 6 kW wind generators and 10 kW of solar electric cells.

Each of these has been placed in locations guaranteed to minimise the physical and visual impact on the island as a whole. The power generated is centralised and distributed to households, businesses and community buildings through 11 km of buried high voltage cable. Two 80 kW diesel generators have been installed to provide emergency back-up and to cover periods when the power generated from the renewable resources is insufficient to meet demand.

The system was designed and implemented by Scottish Hydro Contracting, sub contractors E-Connect Ventures Ltd, Wind and Sun Ltd, Energy Renewed Ltd, G.G. MacKenzie Contracts Ltd, project managers Synergie Scotland Ltd and the voluntary efforts of many of the islanders.

Finding strength in numbers

The Eigg system is an ingenious solution to a problem faced not only by regions but one which is rapidly climbing to the top of the global agenda. All 44 households, 21 commercial properties & 6 community buildings on the island are connected to the system and have their very own supply of renewable electricity.

While each household is capped at 5 kW and businesses at 10 kW, this does not appear to have caused any inconvenience. Instead, everyone is pooling together adapting to the new conditions and boosting the system’s efficacy and, in turn, its benefit to the whole community.

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