The Isle of Gigha is situated off the west coast of Scotland and is host to the first community-owned grid-connected wind farm in Scotland; three turbines with a combined capacity of 675 kW.
The island has around 150 residents and the main industries are tourism, farming and aquaculture. Profits from energy generation support the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, which helps develop the local economy, for example, through a housing refurbishment programme which provides high quality accommodation for local people. A source of local and independent energy was needed for the island, as the overhead power line coming from the mainland is subject to faults and power outages that can last for days at a time.
This affects many activities at Gigha. The island’s fish-farm, for example, must continuously draw fresh seawater and pump it through the ponds, so if there is a problem with the electricity supply the operators of the farm have to use diesel generators.
The Gigha Battery Project is developing a prototype Energy Storage System to realise the full potential of the island’s new Enercon E33 wind turbine (currently, full output cannot be realised because of grid constraints). The battery can store power and release it at times when there is capacity on the grid. This enables the community of Gigha to access the additional power, and thereby income.
It also provides a real world environment through which the technology can be prototyped – paving way for future innovations in sustainable energy technology, as well as showing the way for other rural communities to harness the full potential of their own renewable power.
Photo: Martyn Jenkins via Flickr