Quantcast
Popular

Meet the World's First Island Powered by an Off-Grid Renewable Energy System

A tiny, scenic island lying off Scotland's west coast is truly a model for sustainable, off-grid living. With no mainland electricity connection, the Isle of Eigg gets its electricity from the water, the wind and the sun.


After decades of using diesel generators, in February 2008 the residents of Eigg officially switched to their own renewable electricity supply, becoming the world's first community to launch an off-grid electric system.

The 12-square-mile island, with its small population of 105 residents, gets 'round-the-clock power via a combination of hydroelectric generators, wind turbines, a photovoltaic array and a bank of batteries. On days when renewable resources are low or during maintenance, two 80kW diesel generators provide backup.

"The set-up that we've got now will carry the island all day and put charge into the batteries for the evening," John Booth, the former director of the community-owned Eigg Electric company, told the BBC.

On days when there is a surplus of power—like when it's particularly windy or rainy—electric heaters automatically switch on in Eigg's church and community hall, which is ideal for keeping shared spaces warm throughout the winter.

This means "virtually no central heating in the system at all," Booth pointed out. "We don't charge for it because the whole community benefits."

As the BBC detailed, before making the transition to renewables, the island relied on noisy and expensive diesel generators that could only run for a few hours a day. But with the new power system, energy is available 24 hours a day.

Eigg residents are encouraged to use their power responsibly. Each house has a maximum use limit at any one time of 5kW, which is enough for an electric kettle and washing machine to run at the same time, or fifty 100w light bulbs. Businesses get 10kW. Residents are fined if they use too much power but meters help keep electricity use on track.

"The whole thing is run by and for the island," Booth said.

Researchers from all around the world—Brazil, Alaska and Malawi—have visited the isle to learn how the unique system can be adapted elsewhere.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. NASA

Not Enough Ice to Drill the Arctic! Offshore Oil Drilling a 'Disaster Waiting to Happen'

Last month, the Trump administration approved the first offshore oil drilling development in federal Arctic waters, which environmentalists fear will ramp up carbon pollution that fuels climate change.

But here's the ultimate irony: Hilcorp Alaska's project—which involves building a 9-acre artificial drilling island in the shallow waters of the Beaufort Sea—has been delayed because of the effects of climate change, Alaska Public Media reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Westend61 / Getty Images

EcoWatch Gratitude Photo Contest: Submit Now!

EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights
Dominion Energy's headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. VCU CNS

Cash Buys Elections—and Continued Fossil Fuel Dominance

By Wenonah Hauter

Last week, the fossil fuel industry successfully squashed several local measures it didn't like—thanks to the more than $100 million it shelled out to oppose them.

Keep reading... Show less
Fracking
Rick Rappaport

World’s Largest Fracked-Gas-to-Methanol Refinery Must Be Stopped: Submit a Comment Today!

Tuesday, a report written by the company proposing the world's largest fracked-gas-to-methanol refinery was released by the Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County, Washington. The proposed fossil fuel refinery is controversial because of the impacts on both local residents' health and our climate. Despite the company's claim that the refinery could result in a climate benefit, the refinery would consume a stunning amount of fracked natural gas—one-third as much gas as the entire state of Washington.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Business
Drinkworks

How Green Is the New Keurig Cocktail Machine?

This week, Keurig and Anheuser-Busch made headlines with the launch of the Drinkworks Home Bar, a pod-based appliance that makes cocktails, brews and ciders at the push of a button.

Look, I get it. An instant, no-fuss Old Fashioned—which normally requires muddling sugar, water and bitters and mixing in many other ingredients—sounds great!

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The Climate Reality Project

First Look: 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves

In many places, the leaves have fallen and the first frosts have turned the air crisp. The days are getting shorter. Most birds are well on their way south, and the holidays are just around the corner. And in just a few weeks, on Dec. 3-4, we'll present our eighth annual global broadcast of 24 Hours of Reality.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Student leaders behind the movement calling on the UN to highlight key data on imminent global collapse. Our Future Uncompromised

20,000+ Students to UN: Publicize Key Facts to Prevent Global Collapse

24,500 students representing every country in the EU have added their names to the list of young people fighting for a future for themselves and the earth.

The students, who organize under the banner of Our Future Uncompromised and attend the prestigious Schola Europaea network of international schools, are calling on the United Nations (UN) to "stop withholding" crucial scientific information that they say could help avert the duel catastrophes of resources depletion and climate change, the students announced Thursday in an email sent to EcoWatch.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Trump at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia on Aug. 3, 2017. SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

Trump Team Plans 'Sideshow on Coal' at UN Climate Talks

No one really expects the coal-friendly Trump administration to take significant action on climate change, but this is just trolling.

A new exclusive from Reuters claims that the president's team will "set up a side-event promoting fossil fuels" at the global climate summit this December, aka COP 24, in Katowice, Poland.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!