On Wednesday 17 June, the Scottish Government and Scotland Europa hosted an event in Scotland House, exploring the role islands can play in realising whole system energy solutions. The event showcased sustainable projects across Europe which are successfully deploying complex energy solutions to the practical challenge of integrating different energy sources. The projects demonstrated that success was possible through a combination of cross-sector collaboration, community engagement, and appropriate approaches to policy, governance and financing.
Ed Craig, Deputy Director for the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) then gave an interesting overview of a number of EECI-led activities in the field of sustainable islands, including the BRIDGE, Hong Kong Island Hub, and Smart Accelerator projects.
In particular, Smart Accelerator – an 18-month, £1.2 million project which seeks to create an enabling framework for smarter projects combining mobility, energy and ICT – aims to accelerate the development of major smart city and sustainable island projects in Scotland based on international good practice. Ed highlighted three sustainable islands projects in particular chosen for development by the project – Scottish Sustainable Harbours, the Stornoway Low Carbon Hub, and Orkney’s Electric Hub.
Shona Croy, from Orkney Islands Council gave a detailed overview of sustainable energy activity in the Orkney Islands. Noting the need for small islands to diversify their economies in order to achieve sustainability, Shona covered Orkney’s experience in active grid management in particular. Given that 38% of households in Orkney are in fuel poverty, with high fuel costs and a number of older, harder-to-treat houses (48% built before 1945), Shona emphasised the particularly challenging conditions Orkney faces in terms of energy transit.
Shona highlighted the wealth of experience contained with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in particular, in terms of device testing, conducting research and fostering international links to enable global cooperation in the field.
The event also featured a representative from the SmileGov project, Gorona del Viento presenting on the case of the Canary Island of El Hierro and its strategy for energy self-sufficiency, and a representative from Bornholm in Denmark, promoting its ‘Bright Green Island’ vision – to become fossil-free by 2025 in the wider context of Denmark’s national goals to become fossil-free by 2050.
During a panel discussion, the speakers were joined by representatives from Scottish Development International (SDI) and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
These projects illustrate the value of fostering successful innovation in Scotland which include securing further investment in Scotland’s communities and natural assets. These support the goals of Scotland’s Economic Strategy.