Outer Hebrides to feature in international research into local energy innovation

We are delighted to announce that Community Energy Scotland are one of two Scottish partners supporting the Outer Hebrides in a multi-national research project putting local people at the heart of delivering a low carbon future for their communities.

The Responsible Research and Innovation Policy Experimentations for Energy Transition project, RIPEET, is looking at the impacts of bringing together communities, businesses, academia, government, and the environmental sector to deliver sustainable energy solutions.

The project is being funded from the EU’s largest ever Research and Innovation programme, the €80bn Horizon 2020. As well as the Highlands and Islands, RIPEET is working with communities in Extremadura in Spain, and Ostrobothnia in Finland. We will be working closely with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the second Scottish partner in the project.

“The plan is to bring together a wide range of people in a ‘Transition Lab’. The participants will explore what ideal regional energy systems would look like locally in 15-20 years’ time. Then, what’s needed to achieve that energy vision: including energy needs; the barriers; and how to kickstart action to deliver the vision.”

Sarah Marshall, senior project manager at HIE

“The Outer Hebrides Lab will be able to actively shape and create change. RIPEET includes €50,000 funding for an ‘open call’ for solutions to meet an identified regional energy need. This might be a social or technological innovation, the establishment of an organisation, or a piece of research as selected by the stakeholders.”

Matthew Logan, CES Energy in Motion Development Officer, based in the Western Isles

Throughout the project, research will be carried out to understand what common policies, drivers and processes are needed to promote the regional transition to low carbon energy. The project is starting this year and will run until February 2024.

The international RIPEET project team comprises representatives from 11 experienced organisations from seven European countries, led by the Austrian Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI).

“Our aim is to provide responsible and place-based research on energy transition innovation and delivery models, learning from the experiences of the three Transition Labs as they explore options, barriers and solutions in their local regions.”

Wolfgang Haider, RIPEET Coordination Team at the Centre for Social Innovation in Vienna

Together with HIE, we are currently compiling a list of relevant stakeholders interested in taking part in the project.

Community Energy groups call on SSE to think again on replacement cable to the Western Isles

Following meetings with SSE and Ofgem yesterday and today respectively, community energy companies on Lewis (Galson, Horshader, and Point and Sandwick) have issued the following joint statement.  Community Energy Scotland is also a signatory to the statement.  The statement reads:

“We are extremely disappointed with SSE’s announcement that they are not going to upgrade the cable between Harris and Skye, and also with the way in which the decision was made without proper consultation or scrutiny.

SSE previously indicated that they would brief us fully on the pros and cons of a like-for-like replacement versus a bigger cable and that they would allow us to have a say before making their final decision.  SSE did hold a meeting with local generators yesterday but there was no consultation.  They simply announced that they had already taken a decision and that it was their prerogative to do so.  The fact that they actually issued their press release announcing the decision while the meeting with local generators was still in progress speaks volumes for their regard to community opinion.

It is clear that this decision is the cheapest of the two options for SSE, but it is far from obvious that it is in the interests of the developing the local economy, or of achieving net zero, or in the long-term interest of consumers.  In fact, we believe a big opportunity to upgrade and green the Western Isles grid is being missed.

The main explanation SSE gave for choosing the smaller 33kV cable instead of a bigger 132V cable is that they have not used the former before in a subsea situation and that their internal ‘type testing’ to authorise its use would take till the middle of next year before it could be ordered.  We are not convinced.  The 132kV cable is one that has been tried and tested in marine environments, including by SSE themselves to the Isle of Wight.  That is why we are so disappointed that SSE made their decision before sharing their analysis beforehand.

This is not the end of the matter.  Following our meeting with Ofgem today, we have written to SSE to ask them to install a second 33kV cable at the same time as replacing the existing cable. We see no reason why it could not be delivered at the same time as the replacement link, avoiding any prolonging of the outage. That would at least provide some resilience against future cable breakages and also provide some additional capacity for community projects.  We will also be writing to the Scottish Government to express our concern and to ask them to support the case for a second 33kV cable if SSE refuse to provide the 132KV option we asked for.”  

Western Isles Micro-Turbines

Win – Win

The fleet of turbines are sited around the Western Isles. Their locations on community-owned land serve as an exchange for free electricity.

  • Benbecula x 1
  • Galson x 3
  • North Harris x 2
  • South Uist x 2
  • Tarbert x 3
CEST Ltd Western Isles Micro Turbine Locations – Google Maps

The turbines help provide an income to Community Energy Scotland Trading Limited, which passes profits back to support the work of Community Energy Scotland.

Built in the UK, the turbines were installed and are maintained by a business from South Uist, helping keep the supply chain local.

OHLEH

Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub: Sustainable and competitive options to increase resilience of remote businesses.

The project is taking place on the Isle of Lewis across two sites – a waste management facility and a fish hatchery – demonstrating a circular energy economy that will have relevance and learning for other projects. 

Waste Management Facility

The Creed Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF), located just outside Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, is owned and operated by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES), the Local Authority for the Western Isles. Current features of the site include an anaerobic digester (AD), combined heat and power plant (CHP), electric boiler and thermal store, a wind turbine and a hydrogen system comprising electrolyser, storage and refuelling station.

Fish Hatchery

The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) owns and operates four hatcheries, 12 marine fish farms and one processing facility on the Island of Lewis and Harris.  The salmon hatchery at Barvas, Isle of Lewis, will be the main focus of this project, although fish waste from all SSC sites in Lewis and Harris will be able to be deposited at the Creed IWMF.

© Google Maps

OHLEH intends to integrate fish waste along with household and garden waste anaerobic digestion at Creed IWMF. In managing fish waste in this way rather than sending it all to landfill, OHLEH will have a positive impact both environmentally and economically.

Biogas produced from the waste in the AD is used to fuel the existing on-site CHP.  Some of the electricity generated by the CHP is sent to a hydrogen system to produce hydrogen and oxygen.  The system will also make use of some of the electricity from the wind turbine on site, which is often subject to curtailment due to grid constraints.  In this way, OHLEH maximises the use of existing assets.

Both hydrogen and oxygen are captured, compressed and delivered to the hatchery for local use. Oxygenation is essential to aquaculture, and hydrogen will be used in a small fuel cell which will provide electricity to the site. Energy and oxygen can both be seen as critical supplies. OHLEH opens a route for sustainable and competitive options to increase resilience of remote businesses.

The hydrogen system at Creed includes a refuelling station, and some of the hydrogen will be used to refill a dual-fuel Refuse Collection Vehicle (RCV) operating on hydrogen/diesel.  The RCV will be used to collect local waste, part of which ends in the biogas production system.

Most of the equipment for this project is already installed; essentially OHLEH looks at how to link the existing assets together, leading to the creation of a circular and innovative local energy economy.

Technical Information

Wind turbine300kW
Grid connection limited to 225kW
Anaerobic digesterCapacity: 960m3
Production: Between 60m3 and 80m3 per day (as a general average)
Expected biogas yield 448,412m3/year (mix fish/domestic waste)
CHP240kW electrical and 370kW heat output
Minimum combusting 80Nm3/h of biogas
(c. 48Nm3 of Methane)
Annual operating hours expected to reach 4990h
Hydrogen systemAlkaline electrolyser, 30kW – 5.3Nm3/h – 0.45kg/h
350bar compression, storage and refuelling equipment
Refuse Collection Vehicle5kg of Hydrogen
Stored at 350bar
Fuel cell5kW

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