Scotland Will Soon Be Home to the World’s First Self-Sufficient Island
Scotland’s Eigg Island might just be the world’s greenest island – and not only because of its pristine untouched landscape. The tiny isle off the country’s northwest coast boasts a broad array of sustainable strategies and, depending on weather conditions, gets up to 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectric schemes scattered all over the island meet the energy requirements of almost all of its residents.
The island’s $2.64 million electricity grid was switched on in 2008 and runs across the entire 31 square kilometer land mass. As the gird operates independently of the UK’s national grid, the island hasn’t been able to bring in big energy companies, which set its electricity prices higher than the cost on the mainland. Its residents are forced to keep their energy usage under 5 kilowatts at a time, while the limit for business is 10 kilowatts. This limitation has prompted the islanders to use their electricity economically.
Thanks to its geographic location and harsh weather conditions, the island benefits from an abundance of wind and sun energy and has even put free heating into public spaces, churches and its community center.
In 1997, the residents bought the land from its previous owner – making Eigg the first Scottish island to be owned by its inhabitants. This empowering trend extends to newcomers as well-anyone who lives on the island for more than six months can become a member of the residents’ committee. Some of the islanders familiar with the logistics and technicalities of installing renewables claim that the success of the island’s electric scheme owes to the fact that the system allowed each inhabitant to have a say in the decision to install solar panels, wind turbines and other sustainable mechanisms.
Via Al Jazeera
Lead image from isleofeigg Flickr