I’m sure you are wondering how an island can manage to cut their CO2 emissions in half. Well, it started like this…just a few short years ago the residents of the Isle of Eigg did not have access to 24-hour power. They had to rely on producing their own power through diesel-powered generators, wood-burning, etc.
However, since the Isle of Eigg is owned by it’s residents, they got together one day and decided they no longer wanted to be dependent on diesel and other not so environmentally-friendly forms of energy. That’s when they made the decision to switch over to renewable energy: wind, solar and hydro-electric to be specific.
By banning together, the residents on this 12 sq mile island were able to put together an island-wide energy program wherein each household would be able to pull from a “main grid” that collected its energy from the wind turbines, solar panels and hydro-electric generators set up on the island. Individual homes also received solar panels to power their water heaters. Their renewable energy grid went live February 2008.
Now, as expected with this renewable energy program, residents have had to become much more aware of their energy consumption. Each household is allocated a certain amount of energy and they are only allowed to use 5kw of energy at a time. So in order to keep track of how much energy they are using, each home uses a simple ‘owl meter‘. A great way, in my opinion, to really raise awareness on how much energy any home is using.
Because of the innovation and community initiative taken to make such a major change, this small Scottish island actually won a “Green Energy Oscar” for their use of renewable energy.
These days close to 95% of their energy (and hopefully soon to be 98%) comes from renewable energy sources. As a result of their switch to renewable energy, they also have managed to cut their CO2 emissions by nearly 50%.
Quite an accomplishment, don’t you think? It’s very refreshing to see a community join together and make renewable energy not only a reality but a feasible, sustainable way of life. The residents on the Isle of Eigg have become a shinning example of what the future of energy could become.
As for the rest of the world, it will take each of us demanding a change in order to bring about the kind of renewable energy revolution that people talk about. The Isle of Eigg’s Green Team Chairperson described it well,
“in a community-led scheme like ours, people have more responsibility to save energy, but if it’s led by the government, people just leave it to the authorities.”
Remember this though, there are many places around the world where people don’t have access to energy sources like you or I probably do. So please don’t take your energy for granted. Become aware of how much energy you use. Educate yourself on renewable energy options. Figure out where your home uses the most energy and find out how to cut down.
Basically, lower your energy dependence, cut down on your CO2 emissions and take advantage of renewable energy options accessible to you. Everyone could take a few pointers from the residents on the Isle of Eigg and start reaching for more renewable energy sources.