Eigg Electric – An island powered by renewable energy

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I am a strong supporter of the IMechE Engineering Heritage Award scheme. It highlights ‘good engineering’ that is either first of its kind or last in existence. I am writing an application for Eigg Electric as I think they should be recognised for their forward thinking approach to renewable energy generation.

“For the people who live on the Isle of Eigg, the noisy diesel generators that each house used to own are now are silent and suddenly they have leapt to the forefront of electricity generation using renewable energy resources.

The Eigg Electric project is a world leader in the integration of multiple renewable energy sources into a grid system to supply an isolated and scattered small community. Robin Smith a mechanical engineer whilst on holiday on Eigg with his family was inspired to produce this 4 min video to demonstrate what this community has achieved creating a micro grid that connects together hydroelectric, wind & sun into a battery bank and reserve generator.

This project has been conceived and driven by the enthusiasm of the whole community of the Isle of Eigg, and is the culmination of 10 years of achievement since the purchase of the island by the residents in 1997. It was recognised that conventional mains power was not a practicable proposition, the islanders decided to create and run their own all island electricity system; a system that was to depend as much as possible upon renewable resources.

The real story behind this project is an exemplary tale of project management and what a small number of highly motivated (and largely non technical) people can achieve when push comes to shove. The people off Eigg didn’t choose renewable energy because it was the cheap or ‘trendy’ option. They implemented this system because it was right for their environment. The limited capacity of the system requires that they limit demand, and with the approval of the residents, domestic and small business supplies have been capped at 5kW, and larger business supplies at 10kW. Everyone has adapted well to using power within these limits, and the concept make a very real contribution to energy economy and load spreading, a lesson that many of us power hungry ‘mainlanders’ should maybe absorb.”

What do you think of Eigg Electric?

Should the people behind Eigg Electric be given an Engineering Heritage Award ?

I’d be interested in hearing your comments below…


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6 Responses to “Eigg Electric – An island powered by renewable energy”

  1. Susie Allison (Trident Energy)

    I completely agree that the community on Eigg would be worthy recipients of an Engineering Heritage Award. The success of the Eigg community in reducing reliance on diesel generators and sourcing as much power as possible from renewables is an example and inspiration for us all. An achievement that should be celebrated!

  2. Peter Jenkins (IMechE YMP)

    Excellent video Robin! I think it’s quite clear that the project that the Eigg community have successfully undertaken is deserving of some kind of recognition. As it was the first of its kind to use 3 different renewable sources of energy in a single grid an Engineering Heritage Award seems like a fitting accolade.

  3. Andrew Cowell (GCU)

    Well done Robin, an excellent promotion for the Eigg scheme and indeed I’m sure Visit Scotland would be interested too! I also spotted a fourth renewable energy source in the video … pedal power.

  4. Anne Briffett

    The Eigg community should be recognised for what they have achieved here. Well done to them! They may be an island, but so is the UK (and plant earth). We should all have this mindset and realise that we need to conserve energy. Nice one Robin.

  5. Oli Ludlow

    Oli Ludlow,
    I have visited Eigg many times over the past 40 years, (using renewable sail-power, not the ferry!) and since the community take-over the whole ethos of the island has changed dramatically for the better. I completely support Robin’s nomination of Eigg Electric for an Engineering Heritage award – the island’s use of renewable energy helps demonstrate how small communities can improve their living and social standards by working together.

  6. K Brown

    I agree that the people behind Eigg Electric would be worthy recipients of an Engineering Heritage Award. An achievement that should be recognised and rewarded!


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