Unique and remote, the Isles of Scilly lie 28 miles off the tip of Land’s End in the far south west of the UK. The islands are one of the most protected landscapes and environments in England, designated a Conservation Area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coast. With five inhabited islands supporting a permanent population of just over 2,200, Scilly attracts over 100,000 visitors each year.
The islands are carbon-intensive, ranking 8th highest in England for fuel poverty, due to their dependence on electricity and imported fossil fuels, such as heating oil. But the Isles of Scilly have bold energy goals for their future.
The Solution: The Smart Islands Programme
In 2015, an island-wide partnership was established to implement a set of interconnected projects, with the aim to cut electricity bills by 40%, meet 40% of energy demand through renewables and see 40% of vehicles be low carbon or electric by 2025.
The partnership brought Hitachi together with the Council of the Isles of Scilly, the Duchy of Cornwall, Tresco and the Islands’ Partnership – all collaborating to help residents and businesses move to a lower-carbon economy. The partnership demonstrates that Social Innovation can be driven from even the smallest communities to build solutions for their unique challenges.
In the first project to be delivered, Smart Energy Islands, Hitachi is drawing on its experience from a demonstration project on Maui. The objective is to help reduce the price of energy on the Isles of Scilly by 40% by 2025.
With funding support from the European Regional Development Fund, Smart Energy Islands aims to use technology, including Hitachi’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform and Artificial Intelligence (AI), to reduce the carbon footprint of the island whilst optimising locally-produced, renewable energy. The other delivery partners include two of the UK’s leading smart home technology companies: PassivSystems and Moixa, and the Council of the Isles of Scilly.
Around 400kW of solar panels have already been installed on the roofs of 70 of the Council’s homes, the fire station, a recycling facility and desalination plant, and in a solar garden by the airport. Homes are also piloting a variety of energy technologies, including batteries and air source heat pumps. Hitachi’s cloud-based Internet of Things platform will manage energy use: learning consumption patterns, optimising how power is collected and used throughout the house, and linking it to the wider electricity grid.
By integrating solar power, batteries and smart heating technologies, the scheme will make 100 homes more energy-efficient, while also providing energy efficiency support to 200 businesses in the islands and UK mainland.
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The next stage is to introduce electric vehicles to the islands’ new energy system – and electric vehicles can also be used as batteries, charging them up when renewable power is in high supply and drawing energy from them during peak demand. Known as vehicle-to grid (or V2G), electric cars can help the community switch to cleaner energy at their homes and businesses, as well as reduce transport air pollution. It is hoped that further renewable energy generation and innovative ways to manage water and waste will follow in 2020.
The islands have also seen the establishment of a not-for-profit community interest company in 2018. The Isles of Scilly Community Venture sells energy generated by the solar panels and recycles the income to reduce electricity bills for all islanders through a special Isles of Scilly energy tariff, in a partnership with not-for-profit licenced energy provider, Our Power.
Delivering a truly community-based approach, the Smart Energy Islands project uses technology to meet the needs of Scilly’s island communities. Size and location are no barrier to innovation – what is important is the foresight to see the positive impacts that will follow; for the environment, for the community and the desire to make a difference.
About the Isles of Scilly Smart Islands Partnership
The Smart Islands programme developed by the partnership is the result of a community approach to systems thinking. It uses technology to meet the needs of Scilly’s island communities and develop solutions that can be applied everywhere. It is a multi-utility approach addressing energy, waste and water resources. The partnership brings Hitachi together with the Council of the Isles of Scilly, the Duchy of Cornwall, Tresco and the Islands’ Partnership – all collaborating to help residents and businesses move to a lower-carbon economy.
About the Delivery Partners
Moixa is the UK’s leading smart battery company, facilitating smart energy storage and sharing.
PassivSystems provides intelligent home energy management systems.
Hitachi Europe Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., is headquartered in Maidenhead, UK. The company is focused on its Social Innovation Business – delivering innovations that answer society’s challenges. Hitachi Europe and its subsidiary companies offers a broad range of information & telecommunication systems; rail systems, power and industrial systems; industrial components & equipment; automotive systems, digital media & consumer products and others with operations and research & development Laboratories across EMEA.