Progress on clean energy for EU islands initiative

Published: 12/11/2020

Seven of the region’s islands working together on an international project to lower carbon emissions associated with heat, transport and electricity supplies for residents, have published their transition agenda.

Seven of the region’s islands working together on an international project to lower carbon emissions

The islands of Eigg, Muck, Rum, Canna, Fair Isle, Foula and the peninsula of Knoydart were selected last year as ‘pioneering islands’ in the Clean Energy for EU Islands programme and have now developed decarbonisation pathways.

The transition agenda demonstrates a vision towards clean energy. It aims for all the islands to work together to deliver projects that reduce carbon emissions using affordable, resilient, low carbon energy supply. It was developed jointly by community electricity companies and community trusts on the region’s islands.

Foula Electricity Trust (FET) joined Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), NatureScot, Shetland Islands Council (SIC) and Foula residents in signing their clean energy transition pledge last year.

Since then, Foula, which lies 20 miles to the west of mainland Shetland, has implemented a 24hr electricity supply and is upgrading current renewable technology to make the island more sustainable. FET hopes that producing the collaborative decarbonisation plan will allow the island to further its ambition to be fully carbon neutral in the future.

Magnus Holbourn, director of Foula Electricity Trust, said: “The people who live here are very conscious of what is happening to the climate as a result of fossil fuel emissions. We were therefore delighted to be chosen as a pioneering island and develop a transition plan. The plan looks at the different ways our community can partner with the other off-island stakeholder groups who share the responsibility for service provision on the island, so that together we can realise a joint ambition to be a low carbon community.

“The response from the other stakeholders has been very positive and the community is fully engaged and supportive. We see this as a great opportunity to be part of a movement to more sustainable living, something we all care about, living in a place that is so dominated by its natural environment. We really hope that what we do here on Foula can inspire other people to work together and get behind a large-scale transition to low carbon lifestyles.”

The region’s islands were part of the initial 22 European islands who have made the firm step towards decarbonising their energy systems.

They all participated in a recent 4-day online forum which brought together representatives from many of the EU’s different island communities and speakers highlighted how islands can learn from each other’s experiences.

Douglas Cowan, director of communities and place at HIE, said:

“The Clean Energy for European Islanders initiative helps islanders to embrace renewable energy, creating jobs and economic growth and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are delighted that our off-grid island communities are progressing on their EU clean islands developments. We recognise that a resilient, affordable and low carbon energy supply is one of cornerstones of a sustainable community.”

European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said: “These transition agendas are a testament to the hard work and fruitful collaborations among islanders, both within their communities and across borders. It has been truly inspiring to see what is possible when local people have the power and support to write their own futures. We look forward to continuing the cooperation with the EU island communities to make the European Green Deal a reality, both through this initiative and through other EU actions to support a locally-driven energy transition.”

Further information is at https://euislands.eu/29-eu-islands-publish-energy-transition-agendas

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