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United Kingdom

Wind provides close to all power

A new British made wind turbine is providing power to residents of Fair Isle, an island to the far north of Scotland. The 100 kW machine began operating last month and will provide the main electricity supply for the 69 islanders. Fair Isle has no grid connected supply and has been reliant on wind power since 1982 when the National Trust for Scotland -- which owns the island -- installed a 50 kW WindMatic turbine. This is to be refurbished and will provide back-up to the new turbine.

The new machine has been custom built by a Newcastle manufacturing company from off-the-shelf components, though design of the load management system was undertaken in-house. The company declines to be named, but the design engineer is British wind industry veteran Murray Somerville who was at one time with Windharvester, which at one time attempted to continue the Scottish Howden wind technology after it pulled out of wind.

According to Alexander Bennett from the National Trust for Scotland, up to 95% of the island's electrcity will now come from wind power, with diesel generators supplying the remainder. With its wind speeds of around 15 m/s, the island is ideally suited to wind energy development. The two turbines are sited apart to take advantage of different wind regimes. "So long as there is some wind blowing, at least one of them will work," says Bennett.

Priced at £0.035/kWh, the cost of electricity from the scheme compares favourably with any alternative form of generation. Reasonably priced power is important in helping to stabilise the community, says Bennett. "A prime objective for us is to make sure the future of Fair Isle is secure." But he stresses that another key aim has been to reduce emissions from diesel fuel. The 1982 WindMatic turbine was the first autonomous wind power scheme in Britain, he points out. "Fair Isle are very proud of their role in pioneering clean energy."

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