Culture

Orkney Wins €100k EU Responsible Island Prize

“Over the last 15 years Orkney has become very successful at participating in EU research and collaboration programmes relating to sustainable energy.” Gareth Davies, Co-Chair of OREF 

A turbine and gorse blowing in the perpetual wind

In the first ever awards given by Horizon 2020 in the EU RESPonsible Island prize giving Orkney has come in third.

Judged by an international panel of experts Orkney’s achievements in local renewable energy production for electricity, heating, cooling and transport has been awarded €100,000. Download: Orkney Islands

The island of Bornhom, Denmark took first place.  Bornholm was awarded €500,000 and has the ambition of becoming CO2 neutral by 2025 and a zero-emission and climate-friendly community by 2035. Download : Island of Bornholm

Second prize also went to a Danish island, Samsø, being awarded €250,000 for  putting its community at the centre of a successful process to switch from imported fossil fuels to local renewable energy. Download: Island of Samsø

Leask Marine Marinus Tidal Testing Platform

MARINUS Tidal Testing Platform constructed by Leask Marine Ltd in Orkney credit: Kenny Armet

Commenting on the award Gareth Davies, Co-Chair of OREF (Orkney Renewable Energy Forum) said:

“Orkney’s journey towards a more sustainable energy future has always been shaped and strongly supported by European influence.

“At Orkney’s first renewable realities conference back in 2002, Dr Samuele Furfari of the EU’s Directorate General for Energy and Transport claimed to our audience: ‘do not look to others to solve your energy issues – look to yourselves’. This was an extremely important, useful and truthful observation.

“The success that has been achieved since has well and truly been led from within Orkney all be it with major support from others.

“Over the last 15 years Orkney has become very successful at participating in EU research and collaboration programmes relating to sustainable energy.

“In particular Orkney has been recognised as a leader in marine energy matters and the application of green hydrogen.

“The large number of communities, organisations and companies working together has become an important axis of collaboration and friendship for Orkney covering almost all parts of Europe.

“Many European citizens have visited Orkney to see what’s going on, and a significant number European students have come here to study and ended up settling here, enriching the local cultural mix as well as making important contributions to the overall sustainable energy effort.”

Hydrogen 4
Funded by Horizon 2020, the RESponsible Island Prize is awarded in the years 2019 and 2020. The next edition of the RESponsible Island Prize is now open for applications. Applicants can submit their proposals by 29 September 2020.

67m turbine located in Hatston, Kirkwall
The islands of Orkney have been home to, and centre of, renewable energy innovation for more than 60 years, with ground-breaking wind test sites located in the islands from the 1950s to the present day.

Over the last 20 years there has been a marked diversification in activity: starting with energy efficiency; then deploying wind turbines to decarbonise electricity; establishing a world leading marine energy test site; introducing innovative heating, as well as green hydrogen, energy storage and balancing technologies; and latterly addressing decarbonisation of the whole energy system via the ReFLEX Orkney project.

Since 2013, Orkney has generated over 100% of its electricity demand from renewable power sources.

Throughout this amazing progression the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum(OREF) and its membership have encouraged and supported pioneering innovation, helping each other achieve major advances and breakthroughs.

The Orkney energy revolution has been led, inspired and supported by the local community. In Orkney there are over 300 jobs related to renewables, over 700 individual energy generators and technology investors, and 12 large scale wind turbines. Around 10% of the homes in Orkney have microgeneration installed (compared to 2.8% UK average) providing clean energy and income locally.

Careful planning, the local supply chain and good stewardship by developers mean these developments have had minimal negative impact on the local environment or community but have had major benefits to the economy.

Supporting this process, OREF has been a forum where those interested in renewables can meet, discuss and debate issues, and find the most appropriate ways to move forward.

Today, the unique Orkney energy ecosystem is being used as a case study to help other communities and regions across the world. Thousands of visitors have come to Orkney over the years to learn from the pioneering energy R&D activities taking place, and Orkney based expertise and equipment has been exported all over the world to help facilitate, encourage, and inspire other communities to achieve their own sustainable energy solutions.

Read here about Fuel Poverty in Orkney THAW Orkney 5 Years of Supporting Islanders in Fuel Poverty

Fuel Poverty Orkney THAW

Fuel Poverty Orkney slide: THAW

Commenting on the award, Neil Kermode, Co-Chair of OREF said:

“This is a public endorsement of the work done by so many OREF members over so many years to place energy front and centre in the life of Orkney. From routine monthly meetings to the ownership of microgeneration and electric vehicles; from the investments made in large wind in the county to the commitments by the supply chain to deliver the sunrise industries of wave and tidal energy and green hydrogen.

“There’s been a consistent push across the Orkney community to reduce energy consumption and harvest renewable energy demonstrating how a community can live sustainably and responsibly.

“I’m delighted to see that the decades of endeavour here in Orkney have been recognised by the European Commission, and through projects such as ReFLEX Orkney we will continue to decarbonise to develop a net zero economy.”

Rendall Doocot with wind turbine in the background Credit Bell

Rendall Doocot with wind turbine in the background Credit Bell

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