Fair Isle’s local community is benefiting from around the clock electricity provision for the first time, supported by £1.5 million Scottish Government investment.
Fair Isle, situated halfway between Orkney and Shetland and currently home to 55 people, previously only had access to power between 07:30 and 23:30 each day.
A new renewable electricity system went live on Fair Isle today, which combines three wind turbine generators, a ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system and battery storage.
The £3.5 million project, led by Fair Isle Electricity Company (FIEC), secured £1.5 million funding from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) and £250,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Welcoming 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.”
Robert Mitchell, company director of FIEC, said:
“As an important project in a fragile rural area, having reliable renewable power 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.”
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 Resource Efficient Scotland.
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.