Fair Isle panorama from Buness
FAIR ISLE

Thursday March 18, 2010

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FAIR ISLE ELECTRICITY COMPANY Ltd.


Leading the way with community wind power

wtg60s.jpg (15335 bytes)Far from the National Grid, Fair Isle must make its own electricity and does so mainly by the power of the wind - which is usually in good supply!

The first 60kw wind turbine was commissioned in 1982 as a community effort, supported by council and government development agencies. As the first commercially-operated wind energy scheme in Europe, it proved an extremely successful alternative to expensive diesel-powered generators.

The Fair Isle Electricity Committee wisely set charges that encouraged consumers to use wind generated rather than the more expensive diesel generated electricity.  With a very attractive pricing structure customers are also encouraged to use the 'dump' electricity for heating.  As a result FIEC was able to build up a reserve fund which in 1996 helped pay for a second, 100kw turbine, aided by the National Trust for Scotland, Shetland Islands Council, Shetland Enterprise and the European Union. The old machine was also rebuilt and upgraded, control systems and cabling renewed to provide a unique grid independent wind/diesel generating system.

In May 1999 the "Fair Isle Electricity Committee" became the community run Fair Isle Electricity Company Limited - probably the smallest electricity utility in the British Isles!

Generating some 85% of our winter and around 50% of our summer energy requirements from wind power Fair Isle continues to lead the way in the use of renewable energy.  This, together with a programme to improve insulation in the Fair Isle houses, has helped reduce significantly energy imports into an island where the cost of importing carbon based fuels is extremely high.  With fewer barrels of diesel and heating paraffin being transported to the island the risk of pollution is also significantly reduced.

Wind power!
The 60kW wind turbine in calm conditions.
In 1981 we even tried a battery vehicle
- an ex-Edinburgh milk-float!

Ex-Edinburgh milk-float in 1981!

 


 


Text and photographs 2008 Dave Wheeler except where otherwise credited. (Logo picture courtesy of Sumburgh SAR)
If you would like to use photographs from this site please contact dave.wheeler@fairisle.org.uk
Further images of Fair Isle are available.  Photographic commissions undertaken, websites authored. 
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