Unsurprisingly, The Orkneys—a remote cluster of islands off the north coast of Scotland—have become known for wave and tidal power experiments. But that's just one part of the innovation that's been going on in The Orkneys. Once almost completely powered by a centralized, expensive and extremely polluting diesel power station, the island now boasts over 700 interconnected energy generators.
From huge growth in wind energy through battery storage systems to a growth in electric vehicle use, The Orkeys have been pioneering a path toward true energy surplus. The islands already produce more electricity than they consume, and because there are capacity constraints connecting The Orkneys to the mainland grid, they are now looking for new ways to use excess power rather than export it.
Encouraging EV use is just the beginning—there are also interesting things going on with heat pumps taking energy from sea water, and talk of heating greenhouses with surplus energy.Interestingly, this trend is happening elsewhere too. From Tuvalu to The Seychelles to Hawaii, islands around the world are often at the forefront of clean energy—at least partially because imported fossil fuels are disproportionately expensive.
The ever enthusiastic Robert Llewelyn took the ferry over to Orkney for a visit, and he liked what he saw. This is, he thinks, a sign of things to come—if 100 percent renewables are possible in The Orkneys, then it's possible in other parts of the world too. We just need to set our minds to it.