Eday community taps its energy and its creativity

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A motorbike and a screwdriver made music in Orkney as a DIY team of local and international engineers took up a challenge to design and fabricate a renewable energy storage system.

CES members, Eday Renewable Energy (ERE), welcomed collaborators from across Europe for three days of activity aimed at building – from scratch – a device to store electricity.

Work under way to make the Eday gravity batteryLocals and visitors scavenged for tools and components, and even devised an aluminium smelter from beach sand, an old saucepan and a blowtorch.

The machine that emerged was a ‘gravity battery’. It connected a rechargeable electric screwdriver through the motorbike gearbox to a winch that elevated a water tank.

Raising the tank stored electricity as gravitational potential energy. Letting it fall back down regenerated the power.  At the unveiling, the electricity was used to run an electronic keyboard played by local schoolkids and ERE's managing director, Andy Stennett.

The event came together thanks to Community Energy Scotland, the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, the IT University of Copenhagen, and ERE. The collective had won support from the prestigious Cultural Innovation International Prize. A film of the Eday gravity battery will be exhibited next year in Barcelona – putting Orkney's renewable energy and its resourceful inhabitants on a world stage.

Professor Laura Watts applauded the islanders' enthusiasm. “We could not have done this without the extraordinary resourcefulness of everyone on Eday. People found machinery, loaned tools, became part of the engineering team, made tea and cake, provided tractors and vans, and on and on.”

That's community energy!

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