55 Fair Isle residents look to brighter future with new £2.6m community energy wind farm

Fair Isle PHOTO David Wheeler
Fair Isle  PHOTO David Wheeler

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

The Scot-Govt is providing funding of £250,000 for the £2.6 million project which is being led by the Fair Isle Electricity Company, a community energy group.

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.

And 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.

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

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.

The new development provides for three 60kW wind turbines, a 50kW solar array and battery storage.

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.”

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 £1 million for the project through the EU’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme for large scale transformational low carbon infrastructure demonstrator projects.

Additional funding has been provided by the National Trust for Scotland, the local cooncil, and Fair Isle Bird Observatory.

27 July 2017

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