Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 10:40 UK

Island's bid to 'save the world'

Eigg has its own high voltage network, distributing renewable energy

Residents of a tiny Hebridean island hope their five step web-based environmental project can help combat climate change and "save the world".

Eigg is the only Scottish finalist in the Big Green Challenge, competing with nine others for a share of the competition's £1m prize fund.

A mix of renewable energy sources supplies all the homes on Eigg.

Islanders are finalising their entry which includes a website urging other communities to follow their example.

The website - Islands Going Green - asks whether the efforts of Eigg's population can make a difference.

The home page declares: "So, can 86 people save the world? Yes, one island at a time."

Eigg, in the Small Isles between Skye and the Ardnamurchan peninsula, has a £1.6m renewable power system which uses a mix of hydroelectric, wind and solar power, which came on stream in February last year.

Isle of Eigg (pic by Graeme Churchard)
Iain Macdonald, BBC Scotland

In the 1990s, Eigg was at the end of the world. South of the Isle of Skye and 10 miles off the west coast of mainland Scotland, it was as isolated as a place could reasonably be.

And in some ways it was barely even a 20th Century settlement. Some residents had no running water. Power supplies were erratic at best.

However, today the small number of residents of Eigg are offering to save the rest of us.

It was designed to generate more than 95% of Eigg's annual energy demand and is backed up by a battery storage system and two diesel generators.

About 45 households, 20 businesses and six community buildings on the island are linked together by six miles of buried cable, providing a high voltage network.

Maggie Fyffe, of the island's trust, said the hope was that other communities in villages, towns and cities would follow Eigg's example in harnessing renewable energy.

She said: "People think an island is a defined area, but our idea is that anybody could be an island - a street could be an island, or a block of flats could be an island, or a school could be an island.

"We are asking people to join us in looking at ways that they can reduce carbon emissions."

The five steps have been designed as a guide to cutting, for example, car mileage.

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