A landmark project aiming to double the renewables capacity of the Isles of Scilly through the addition of new solar is expected to receive almost £3 million in government funding following its inclusion in the government’s latest Industrial Strategy.
The Smart Energy Islands project was announced earlier this year, using around £8.6 million from the European Union’s Regional Development Fund (ERDF) alongside over £2.1 million from technology providers Hitachi Europe, Moixa and PassivSystems.
It aims to provide the isles with a new smart energy system, testing new software platforms to manage supply and demand through renewables, around 1MW of energy storage and electric vehicles.
The eventual goal is to see 40% of electricity demand using renewables, to cut electricity bills by 40%, and for 40% of vehicles on the islands to be electric or low-carbon all by 2025.
According to this week’s Industrial Strategy, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has now agreed in principle to invest up to £2.95 million in the programme.
This contribution comes from the government’s Local Growth Fund, which is investing over £70 million through the ‘Growth Deal’ programme to improve infrastructure and grow the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The local LEP has decided to allocate these latest funds in the Isles of Scilly project, which chief executive Sandra Rothwell has said could provide a new model for the rest of the country.
“Smart Islands is creating a learning laboratory that we hope will serve as a model for the rest of the UK and beyond. It is melding cutting-edge digital technology with renewable energy generation and storage to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the world today. It will bring huge benefits to the island community in terms of reduced costs and carbon emissions, and cater for future sustainable growth,” she said.
A portion of the LEP’s funds will be used to fund 10 solar canopies across the islands, in addition to cash for battery storage units and bi-directional electric vehicle chargers, as well as up to ten vehicles for local residents on a pooled basis.
The latest investment will also be used to support a programme of energy efficiency surveys, energy monitoring, advice and recommendations for businesses on the Isles of Scilly, including the installation of smart low carbon technologies.
The project aims to develop a business model for a larger scheme that could also be rolled out to communities across the UK.
Minister for Local Growth Jake Berry added: “This is an exciting example of a Local Enterprise Partnership using Government’s Growth Deal funding to deliver savings for local people and businesses and offering environmental benefits. It also shows that innovation is not confined to big cities and I hope it develops into a model that other places can use in future.”
According to the Council of the Isles of Scilly, the Smart Islands programme has been given special recognition for its focus on providing savings for residents and businesses, and for demonstrating that innovation can be driven from even the smallest communities.
Councillor Ted Moulson, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: “The government’s decision to feature Smart Islands within the Industrial Strategy is extremely positive for the islands and recognises the vision and innovation of the programme.
“The Smart Islands Partnership’s aim to improve infrastructure, economic prosperity and quality of life on the Isles of Scilly, whilst acting as a proving ground for clean growth across the UK, is unique. The hard work is just beginning, but we hope that Smart Islands will bring significant benefits to Scilly’s economy and provide a useful model for other communities – size and location should not be a barrier to innovation.”