-> 2008 -> Can Islay Be The Scottish Samso?

Thursday, 25/Sep/2008

Can Islay Be The Scottish Samso?

Quite a lot has been written about Islay and renewable energy over the last few years. I've covered it in Wave Power and Renewable Energy on Islay and Tidal Energy on Islay. Other examples include Ron with Wavegen Turbine on Islay Officially set in Motion and Islay Energy Trust – Sea Bed Survey in Sound Of Islay. There is also the Islay Energy Trust working on a few projects, although so far with limited tangible results. Reading an article about the ‘Isle of Plenty’ makes me wonder if Islay can do better?

The island of Samsø in Denmark is an exception and not something that can be achieved everywhere and not easily, but should help to get people thinking: It is energy independent and actually now sells power to the mainland. Interestingly enough Soren Harmensen, the man who made most of it happen, has been to Islay to speak about his experiences. Now I haven't been at the meetings and don't know if this is being reported accurately (please add your views if you know different), but reading it reported this way in The Guardian makes me a bit sad:

On another visit - this time to Islay, off the west coast of Scotland - Soren found similar problems. 'I was asked to attend a public meeting to debate the idea of turning the island into a renewable energy centre like Samso. But nearly all the speakers droned on about ideals and about climate change in general. But what people really want is to be involved themselves and to do something that can make a difference to the world. That point was entirely lost.

'Later I found that a local Islay distillery was installing a new set of boilers. Why not use the excess water to heat local homes, I suggested. That would be far too much bother, I was told. Yet that was just the kind of scheme that could kick-start a renewable-energy revolution.'

Now I know there are a number of small efforts going on in a variety of places: Roland is installing ‘geothermal heating’ in the Islay Hotel in Port Ellen, the Port Mòr Centre in Port Charlotte is carbon neutral using a wind turbine, geothermal heating and solar panels. May be they can show the way and encourage further opportunities?

Thinking about it, Bowmore Distillery is providing excess heat to heat the swimming pool in Bowmore, so the idea is not completely alien. The ideas are there, may be they just need another push to drive more of them? More small ideas which all combined can help Islay to be less dependent on huge, difficult and very expensive experimental projects?

Who knows, may be Islay will be mentioned in the breath as Samso at some point and examples like this will come from Islay...

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