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Leading the world to go green

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Forty years ago while oil was still all the rage, Orkney was looking to the future and established a test site for wind turbines at a place called Burgar Hill. In 2002 this site then went on to have the first turbine in the UK to generate more than 100million KWh of electricity.

Pioneering communities in Shetland have been using wind energy since the early 1980s when Fair Isle opened the UK's first community based wind power scheme in 1982. This pioneering project not only harnessed the natural resources of the islands, but put local people in charge of their own energy.

Orkney was world-leading in 2004 when the world’s first, and to this day only, grid connected wave and tidal test centre was set up at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Stromness. It became the world’s first floating wave energy generator to put electricity into the National Grid. The facility has grown and now includes two test sites where small scale devices and new designs can gain real sea experience in less challenging conditions.

The UK’s largest community owned wind farm is now in the Outer Hebrides.  Beinn Ghrideag Wind Farm is owned by Point and Sandwick Trust.

Foula gets connected

Foula goes green 

The island of Foula, Shetland, is not connected to any mainland electricity grid. The island’s first community electricity scheme was constructed in 1987. This comprised of a 3.3kV grid linking diesel generators, a wind turbine and a hydroelectric scheme to the islands’ properties. Although an improvement, this only provided electricity 12 hours a day and the diesel system was not environ­mentally friendly.

However, between 2004 and 2010 the islanders transformed their electrical system and way of life thanks to an investment from the Big Lottery Fund. Three small 20kW wind turbines, as well as battery storage and back-up generators were created. This provided an electricity supply, 24 hours a day, to all 28 residents, fully sourced from renewable energy.

Wind turbines in Orkney


Watch Foula resident Isobel Holbourn describe her island’s transformation:

Video Gallery 1 :::



orkney turbines

Orkney Leading a Green Recovery

Orkney has been testing large scale wind turbines since 1951 and been involved with community turbine projects similar to those in Shetland and the Outer Hebrides. Orkney are now looking to lead a green recovery by turning the tide on climate change and using renewables as a sustainable vehicle for economy recovery.

Video Gallery 2 :::


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