Renowned wildlife artist, Bill Neil, has helped conserve the environment he earns his living off, by powering his studio with sunlight.

The artist, who has lived on South Uist with his wife Norma for the past 30 years, is best known for his striking watercolour and acrylic paintings of the local flora and fauna. After moving to the Western Isles Bill was immediately impressed by the open landscape which is dotted with spectacular lochs, enormous skies and prolific wildlife, and as an avid conservationist he was keen to retain the landscape he loves to paint.

Recently, Neill decided to branch out into solar energy in order to do his part for the environment as well as supplement his income and reduce his electricity bills.

He said: “As a lover of wildlife I have been interested in solar energy for a while and was keen to experiment with different ways of producing green energy.

“Above all I felt the need to reduce my carbon footprint, and was delighted to discover a solar panel company working directly from South Uist who were able to install my system with minimal disruption.”

The couple enlisted Absolute Solar and Wind to install a 16 panel array on their property near Bill’s studio and gallery in Askernish.

He added: “I generate and use a lot of my own energy now, which not only has a feel good factor but has also given us a great financial investment as we have lower out-goings and also receive money back through the Government’s feed-in tariff.

“We’ve been very pleased with the results so far. On a sunny day it generates energy before we even get up. Of course it doesn’t need to be hot to generate electricity, even on clear cool days it will be working away.

By May, the ground mounted system had already produced 1260kWh of clean green energy despite the winter months’ low light levels.

Absolute Solar and Wind has a base on South Uist which is headed up by local surveyor Willie MacDonald and installer Tom Newall.

Willie MacDonald from Absolute Solar and Wind said: “Bill and Norma’s system was a great one to work on and shows their forward-thinking nature.

“As a lover of nature Bill is more aware than most of the need to reduce his carbon footprint and give something back to the local environment. Not only that, but the system will generate extra income for the couple and save on electricity costs – now that really is a pretty picture.”