NESOI: new energy solutions optimised for islands

The NESOI Islands Facility, part of the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative, aims to support and fund island energy transition projects.

Background: Over a number of years, the collaborative work of Island Authorities, Scottish Islands Federation (SIF), European Small Islands Federation (ESIN), Community Energy Scotland and others has aimed to promote to the EU, the unique role and needs of islands in delivering energy transition.

Beginning in 1993 with ISLENET, the first network of island authorities promoting sustainable energy and environmental management, the Pact of Islands and the SMILEGOV project followed resulting in the development of the Smart Islands Initiative and Declaration.

In 2017, in recognition of the particular set of energy challenges and opportunities faced by islands, the EU commission, together with 14 minsters of energy from member states, signed the “Political Declaration on Clean Energy for EU islands”.

The Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative (CE4EUi) aims to provide the catalyst needed to enable Europe’s island communities to become leaders in the clean energy transition.

Clean Energy EU islands Secretariat 2018 to 2020
The Secretariat was set up in 2018 to deliver a capacity building and advisory service and to create a new platform for sharing resources and good practice in island energy systems. Initially running for 3 years, there is a possibility that the Secretariat may be extended until June 2021.

The Secretariat supported 26 islands to develop an Energy Transition Plan, including 6 off-grid islands of Scotland (Eigg, Rum, Canna and Muck, Foula and Fair Isle) and islands within the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum. These plans will make it easier for islands to source funding to take forward their projects through the Horizon 2020-funded Clean Energy Islands Facility.

The Secretariat has developed an Islands Transition Handbook and has delivered a series of Webinars (some coming up over March, April, May).

The Secretariat is also developed an online platform to enable all those involved in island energy transition to connect, learn from and train each other, access experts and capacity building materials and work on their transition agendas together. Islands that have signed up to the Clean Energy for EU Islands Pledge be able to access the platform.

Clean Energy EU Islands Facility 2019 to 2023
Building on the work of the Secretariat, from the end of 2019 and until 2023, with €10M from Horizon 2020, the Island Facility will offer the analytical, financial and legal expertise needed to collect additional data and develop concrete investment plans for islands energy transition.

The consortium that won the contract to administer the Facility is NESOI (New Energy Solutions Optimised for Islands). Working closely with the Secretariat, NESOI will provide concrete support to the energy transition process, both at European level and in the implementation of interventions on (at least) 60 beneficiary islands, including training, technical support, co-operation and funding opportunities:

NESOI will help to leverage financial investment and will provide both direct and indirect support for island energy transition projects. The platform where islands can access support for energy transitions plans, as well as access ideas, tools and finance to support their projects, is currently being developed.

 

All pulling together: Galson Estate community response

Communities everywhere are going above and beyond to help each other out and make things as good as they can be. Early March, before all this kicked off, feels like a lifetime ago but it really is amazing to see what local groups and volunteers have managed to achieve in such a short and challenging period of time.

At Galson Estate it began with some forms to ask for volunteers and find out who needed help and has grown into a team of volunteers, a WhatsApp group for every village, collection and delivery services and even a YouTube channel with an exercise class, bedtime stories and bookbug sessions. It’s just brilliant and you can read more of the detail below from Lisa of Galson Estate Trust:

We were really fortunate as I think we managed to mobilise the community pretty promptly. Over 2 weeks ago I heard the first minister on the radio on my way into work and she mentioned “WhatsApp Trees”, so basically groups for folk who live on the same street etc. I thought it might be good to do this for the estate for every village (taking account of those who don’t have WhatsApp by recording a phone number). The idea was to account for every single household in a bid to foster a way of allowing people to help each other, so a mutual support as opposed to setting up a helpline and then having to match volunteers or becoming so swamped we could help no one properly.

So far the groups are working really well. It’s been a mammoth task, but we are just about there, and we see neighbours offering to do shopping, take in bins and even just saying “morning, how are you all today”.

We set up a private Facebook group to support those collecting numbers and to establish a volunteer group and this is also working well and helps us react and respond quickly to any gaps that might appear in services and support in the area.

We redeployed a member of staff who was keen to have tasks to become a delivery driver. The local car hire company were offering vans free of charge, so we quickly got insurance in place and decided to offer to do collections from Stornoway, from the local crofting co-operative, Lewis Crofters. The co-operative could no longer offer deliveries as they needed all staff to enable them to operate safely by running a drive thru operation, with telephone orders, so we thought to save crofters from the estate all driving to Stornoway and to support those who couldn’t do that due to self-isolating or whatever the reason might be. We now run this three days per week and have three drop off areas (large car parks at community buildings) across the estate. This is hopefully a good support ahead of lambing season.

We are delivering prescriptions from two surgeries across the estate 5 days per week. Volunteer drivers are carrying this out on a rota basis, and this too is working well as people can’t get out to collect prescriptions.

We have also set aside time for analysis and review of the various schemes of support and are proactively supporting organisations on the estate to work through what might be available to them.
We have also put volunteer support into one local shop to support it to stay open as it was essential for items, such as fuel and gas.
We are offering Gaelic and English Bookbug sessions on our newly created YouTube channel three times per week and today we launched a Gentle Movement class online and this will run every Thursday.

Our next piece of work is around the community newspaper, which can no longer keep running, so we propose to work in partnership with volunteers to deliver a free community newsletter to ensure information and news is still reaching the community. We realise that not everyone is online and we have to try our best to keep people connected to someone else.

We will continue to assess the gaps and try to do what we can to ensure the community are supported and feel secure during what is such a difficult and perplexing time.

The estate is obviously community owned and what better way to celebrate land ownership that to ensure the benefits from the asset support the community during the good times and the bad.

From Figi to Fair Isle: Islands around the World and Covid 19

Limited access to emergency medical care, supply chains dependent on transport links (and the weather!) and with many older people in our communities, it can be scary living on a remote island during a global pandemic and a real challenge to plan a local, regional and national response. It is however, amazing to see how everyone, at every level is pulling together.

With this in mind, to help those islands that are further behind on ‘the curve’ than we are as well as to help us plan ahead, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance and Island Innovation have teamed up to gather information on island responses from across the world.

You can read what has been collated so far here .  The survey questions are here and if you could spare the time to add  feedback from your own island that would be great.  You can email your response to Francesco.

CROC Talk – community response from Cumbrae

Here is another good example of the community response on the islands.

The Millport Support Group started off as a Facebook page to connect people but has grown into a collaboration with all the local agencies and groups including Cumbrae Forum, Cumbrae Community Council, the local churches and North Ayrshire Council.

The group liaises with Police, Pharmacy, and local NHS and Care Worker Teams to co-ordinate support and has a team of over 40 volunteers helping out with shopping, picking up prescriptions, dog-walking and much more.

CROC Talk has been a joint effort by the Group, Cumbrae Community Council, North Ayrshire Council and the Churches on the island. It has been really well thought out, containing such a lot of helpful information and has been delivered to every household on Cumbrae.  You can have a look at it here Croc Talk.

Community Support Hubs have also been set up across North Ayrshire and regular updates produced for each area – North Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership COVID 19 Update.