Renewables light up the Isle of Canna

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The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust (IoCCDT) has announced the formal launch of its new, environmentally-friendly energy generation system, following a bedding-in period that saw it meet 98 per cent of residents’ energy needs.

On Saturday April 6, the trust will stage a special event on Canna to mark occasion, to be followed by a celebratory ceilidh.

For almost 20 years, Canna and Sanday’s 18 residents have had to rely on three diesel generators for power as the islands are not connected to the National Grid.

As a result of a community venture, Canna Renewable Energy and Electrification Ltd (CREEL), power is now generated through wind and solar, and linked to a battery storage system, which relegates the old generators to occasional back-up use.

CREEL owns and operates the new equipment, construction of which finished in October 2018.  Since then, it has produced a reliable, 24-hour, environmentally sustainable power supply.  All profits from the sale of electricity used by Canna residents and businesses are ploughed back into running the system.

Geraldine MacKinnon, CREEL Director said: ‘We’re delighted that our energy project is now completed and the turbines are making good use of this winter’s Atlantic gales!

‘As well as minimising the noise and pollution from the generators, the new scheme gives us the capacity to build additional houses on Canna, so that new families can make their home on this beautiful island.

‘We’re very grateful to all of our funders for their support in this vital project, and especially to Jamie Adam of Community Energy Scotland who managed the scheme and kept us on track through all of the complexities involved.’

Canna is owned and cared for by the National Trust for Scotland, which works in partnership with the IoCCDT.  It’s operations manager (islands), Alan Rankin said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that this community-led initiative has been so successful.

‘The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust is to be congratulated and we were delighted to be able to offer our support.  The advent of renewable power can truly be described as transformational for the island and this is definitely the way of the future for sustainable island communities.’

The new power system also benefits existing local businesses as well as allowing for further expansion and investment. There are around 10 local businesses at present, including guest houses, a cafe, campsite and crofts. Reliable and affordable power is vital in helping these businesses thrive and expand.

The new system is expected to substitute the use of more than 36,000 litres of diesel fuel each year, equivalent to 96.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (in direct emissions only, excluding the embodied energy involved in extracting, refining and transporting the diesel).

Over a period of 25 years, the scheme could prevent more than 2,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.