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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 August, 2004, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Foula power ahead for islanders
Wind turbine
The islanders hope to harness wind power in the future
Electricity rationing is set to end on a remote Scottish island with moves to provide dependable round-the-clock power to homes on Foula.

A diesel generator supplies power to the 32 residents - but they are cut off for more than seven hours each night.

A 200,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund will help create a new system for the island 12 miles west of Shetland.

Solar panels will be used in producing the energy and there are long-term plans to harness wind power.

The moves have been welcomed by residents on the island.

They currently have no electricity from midnight until 0730 BST in an effort to save diesel consumption.

It will be really good to have a dependable electricity supply all day and all night
Isobel Holbourn
Foula resident
In addition to the lack of lighting, islanders also have to worry about their freezers defrosting.

They have to import coal and oil for heating - and the power supplied by the island's generator is twice as expensive as electricity on the mainland.

Isobel Holbourn, who has lived on the island for nearly 50 years, said: "It is really very positive and exciting, especially for me because I had my family in the Sixties with no running water, no electricity and using oil lamps.

"It will be really good to have a dependable electricity supply all day and all night."

Mrs Holbourn said that the new system would involve a sophisticated battery bank supplied by solar panels and an enhanced hydro generator.

Management team

It is hoped that a second phase will use two or three wind turbines to boost the battery bank.

"Consumers will feed off it and the batteries will be topped up by a diesel generator if it drops below 50%," she said.

A management team has been set up to put together a package of funding from various sources, including the lottery.

Frank Robertson, spokesman for the Foula Electricity Trust, said: "If it weren't for this grant, we wouldn't be able to get this project started.

'Absolutely delighted'

"The Big Lottery Fund are the very first organisation to offer the funding which will allow us to move on to the second phase and change the quality of life on the island beyond all measure.

"It is critical to provide an electrical supply 24 hours a day and to provide sufficient reserves for future development. We are absolutely delighted, as are all of the islanders."

The Big Lottery Fund announced 10 awards totalling more than 1.5m to voluntary organisations across Scotland on Tuesday.

The grant to the Foula Electricity Trust will part-fund capital costs for the project.

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