In the wake of the recent cold spell, citizens of the Isle of Arran were left without power for almost a week. To say that the weather has been uncharacteristically cold would be an understatement. News reports have mentioned the collapsed pylons carrying power to the Island as worst damage by snow in 30 years.
The noise of the clunky generators- which were transported as a temporary fix -is music to the ears of the residents of Arran, trumpeting the availability of electricity as the holiday season begins. While some may argue that the damage caused was inevitable however a little north on another Island, the inhabitants would say otherwise.
The tiny Hebridian Island of Eigg produces its own electricity using local wind, solar and hydro energy resources in conjunction. With the small amount of funds the community was able to raise, this Island of 80 managed complete grid independence.
There is a lesson for the residents of Arran who being a bigger Island could pool far more resources and funds. The pain from the present situation would have certainly been reduced if not averted had the islander opted for at least some form of locally generated renewable electricity in their energy mix. The Eigg residents managed autonomy of electric power in 2008. Five years on, the available technology is much more efficient and far cheaper.
Arran has wind resources that many of our European neighbours can only dream of. Opportunities for hydro-electricity are also multiple. Furthermore solar PV – with its ever improving efficiency -is also an option that provides an added stream to the energy pool. For those who are sceptical of reduction in the number of tourists because of wind turbines should again look at Eigg. The number of people visiting Eigg has risen for the very reason that it is now uniquely a “green” zone in every sense of the word.
Arran has to look away from the mainland for energy and look at the riches of its own renewable resources for a reliant and empowering future.