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A new community-owned electricity system powering the off-grid Isle of Canna from wind and solar PV will secure supply for the residents of this remote island The community on Canna is delighted to announce the successful completion of a community owned renewable energy system which has transformed the way power is generated on the island. Since 2000, Canna (which has no connection to the National Grid) had been powered by three diesel generators, but a new system based around wind, solar and battery storage is now up and running.

The community has started a new venture called Canna Renewable Energy and Electrification Ltd – CREEL for short – which will own and operate the new equipment, ploughing all profits back into the running of the system to help keep bills affordable for the residents and businesses.

CREEL director Geraldine MacKinnon 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 reducing the noise and pollution from the generators the new scheme will give us the capacity to build additional houses here, 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.”

Construction finished at the end of October 2018 and during the first 2 months renewables accounted for 98% of total energy generated on the island, with the backup generators hardly kicking in at all.

Expected future benefits: The people living on Canna now have a more reliable, 24-hour electricity supply, with better power quality and far reduced risk of bills escalating steeply in the future due to diesel costs rising. There are currently 18 permanent residents on the island of Canna, and the provision of a reliable power source is vital to meeting community aims to expand the population and the existing housing infrastructure.

The new power system will also benefit existing local businesses as well as allowing for business expansion and investment. There are around 10 local businesses at present including guest houses, a cafe, campsite and crofts. Reliable and affordable power will help these businesses thrive and expand.

The project will help increase visitor numbers through both a reliable power source but also the potential for investment in new facilities, such as a community hub and bunkhouse providing accommodation, electric showers and laundry facilities. The community and the NTS are currently undertaking a feasibility study for these facilities, which would require the additional electricity capacity the CREE project has delivered.

In environmental terms, the system is estimated to save over 36,000 litres of diesel per 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 25 years of operation this could be a saving of over 2400 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Thanks: We are extremely grateful to our funders: The Big Lottery Fund and their Growing Community Assets Programme; Local Energy Scotland and the Scottish Government for their CARES and Innovation and Infrastructure Fund programmes; SSE and their Highland Sustainable Development Fund; to Highlands and Islands Enterprise; and to the National Trust for Scotland, both for their financial contribution and for the lease of the network which has allowed the project to go ahead.

Thanks should also go to the principal contractor SSE Contracting, and to their subcontractors; CHAP Ltd (civils); Wind & Sun Ltd (PV and battery/inverter systems); and SD Wind Ltd (turbine supply and installation).

The people of Canna would also like to thank Community Energy Scotland and Jamie Adam in particular, for project managing this scheme; Jamie kept us on track though all of the complexities involved.

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Community Energy Scotland, Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone, 67A Castle Street, Inverness IV2 3DU
Registered Scottish Charity (No. SC039673), and company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland (No. SC333698)
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