Stunning mountainous landscape, luscious green valleys, and clean energy. Does this sound like a pipe dream, or a scene from The Sound of Music or maybe a fictional novel about some imagined utopian paradise? It is none of those, it is real and actually exists in Scotland.
Eigg is a Hebridean Island off the coast of mainland Scotland and is widely renowned as an area of outstanding natural beauty with pristine landscape, and now, using a broad array of sustainable and carefully planned strategies it gets more than 90% of all its energy from renewable sources.
The Scots are showing the rest of us that it is perfectly possible to live well, eliminating the need for fossil fuels and the corresponding widespread environmental and ecological damage to the surrounding environment. It is down to these forward thinking residents that, by utilizing wind turbines, hydroelectric turbine and solar panels, all of the island’s residents can use clean self sustaining energy.
It began in 2008 when the $2.64 Million electricity was switched back on but was running separately from the National Grid in the UK. This small island found that the major energy companies were unable to provide them with greater capacity. So their solution was to think outside the box and as a whole they agreed to limit their consumption to less than 5 kilowatts for domestic users and less than 10 kw for businesses.
Due to it’s fairly remote geographic location, the area is blessed with fairly harsh weather by many standards. However the advantage to this is endless source of wind and sunshine. So by harnessing these natural conditions the local people were able to provide totally free heating in the public spaces, like churches and their community center. In fact Eigg has the first completely wind, water and sun-powered electricity grid in the world.
Many will ask what is the secret to this solid community spirit – well the surprising fact is that the island is actually now owned by its residents! Back in 1997 the Eigg Islanders bought the farm – quite literally. This pioneering ‘community buy-out’ ushered in land reform in Scotland, giving islanders control of their future for the first time. Once you have lived on the island for more than six months you then become a member of the resident committee, so you have a say and therefore a responsibility in sharing and making decisions regarding the running and the future of this stunning island.
Their hard work was recognized in 2010, the Isle of Eigg community won first place – and $450k prize – in a competition to find new and better ways to tackle climate change, run by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).
Sadly we can’t all just become residents of Eigg, but we can study how they have acheived so much and worked together as a tight united community, with the better interest of everyone involved being served.
Let Eigg be an inspiration and an aspiration to us all who wish to live a more self sustaining life.