Category Archives: SmileGov

Successful end to SMILEGOV project


SMILEGOV Summary Report for Scottish Island Federation AGM December 2015, Terry Hegarty, SMILEGOV project officer

The Scottish Islands Federation (SIF) has recently completed involvement in a 30 month European project to support more effective approaches to strategic energy planning and development of sustainable energy projects on islands.

The SMILEGOV project’s acronym derives from ‘Smart Islands Governance’, a critical consideration for island communities aspiring to sustainability. The capacity of individual islands to comply with European energy targets widely depends upon collaborative planning and effective participatory engagement of key stakeholders. These typically include agencies of both local and central government, island community and business interests, land owners, energy companies, regulatory bodies and technology specialists.

Scotland offered a distinct model

Elsewhere in Europe, Municipal or Regional Authorities commonly lead development of sustainable energy projects and plans for islands. SIF has thus participated alongside 11 other networks spanning 163 island authorities throughout the Baltic, Mediterranean and Atlantic regions and beyond, nearly all represented by local government personnel. The ‘community NGO’ model for leading developments on Scottish islands with which SIF has worked is quite distinct and evidently of interest to some other consortium members, motivating a study group of Estonian Islanders to visit Mull in June 2015.

Parallel programmes of themed island energy workshops arranged and reported throughout Europe have effectively pooled information, knowledge and perspectives to enhance capacity for development of island energy plans and projects throughout SMILEGOV’s ‘clusters’.

Energy priorities for Islands

Energy priorities facing Islands were identified, drawn together and addressed, through SMILEGOV consultations and reports completed (or in the pipeline):

  • Mobility
  • Communication
  • Business Models
  • New Technologies
  • Smart Grids
  • Permit Processes
Identified constraints

In Scotland constraints facing island energy projects in Scotland notably include:

  • Grid constraints
  • Accessibility of data to inform plans
  • Planning constraints
  • Local capacity to lead developments
  • Consistency of government support
Best practice highlighted

Through SMILEGOV, difficulties, best practice and achievements have also been highlighted. See the SMILEGOV case studies of the project website at

SIF worked with Community Energy Scotland (CES) to monitor, support and report on progress of a number of individual energy projects within our cluster of Scottish Islands.

8 energy audits completed for Scottish islands

Inspired by SMILEGOV, and also supported by CES through Local Energy Scotland, SIF initiated a separate project to facilitate Island Energy Audits for participating Scottish islands. Each of eight resulting reports presents useful baseline data to inform more effective approaches to energy planning at island level. Follow up activity is already being pursued in the cases of Iona and The Small Isles

Islands as test beds 

Due to the generic nature of energy challenges facing islands, it is increasingly recognised in Scotland as elsewhere, that islands may serve as valuable test beds for emergent technologies, and proving grounds for more effective multilateral approaches to strategic local energy planning for sustainability.



SMILEGOV update December 2014

In Project SMILEGOV, the Scottish Islands Federation (SIF) leads the capacity building involvement of 10 island communities in the project, participating alongside other cluster leaders and islands throughout European Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean regions.

  • Arran
  • Bute
  • Cumbrae
  • Gigha
  • Iona
  • Lismore
  • Luing
  • Mull
  • Sleat (Skye)
  • Small Isles (Canna, Eigg, Muck, Rum)

Individuals on each of these islands, together with key staff in their respective local authorities have been invited to register and encouraged to study with SMILEGOV’s free online island energy training course.

Additionally, through a CARES project also led by SIF, energy audits are currently being undertaken on each island, with mentoring support for island auditors supplied through Community Energy Scotland. It is anticipated that these reports will serve as the basis for stakeholder meetings early in 2015, to expedite practicalities of preparing Island Sustainable Energy Action Plans, to inform, shape and focus island energy projects into the future.

SMILEGOV recognises a somewhat distinct model applying in Scotland compared to other clusters: Here, energy projects are often planned and implemented by island communities on their own behalf, supported rather than led by Local Authorities. Community engagement (such as we might take for granted as our starting point) seemingly presents challenges for some local government agencies leading energy projects on islands elsewhere. For the remaining duration of SMILEGOV, monitoring and supporting Bankable Projects within clusters is an important activity, reporting to allow for wider sharing of expertise and experience both within and between clusters. This may be in terms of planning, financial models, grid constraints, stakeholder engagement, or specialist and emergent technologies.

Other SMILEGOV deliverables, completed or pending, include case studies in effective multi level (or multi lateral) governance, and working groups and fact sheets focussed on particular projects and technologies. Working with European partners allows for better informed appraisal of how energy project planning, development and implementation on Scottish islands compares with achievements and priorities of our peers elsewhere in Europe, in order to strategically focus appropriate capacity building support and overcome obstacles. SMILEGOV: Bankable Projects registered in Scotland:

  •  Arran – Hydro
  • Bute – Biodiesel
  • Bute – PV
  • Canna – Wind
  • Cumbrae – Wind
  • Gigha – Wind
  • Lismore – wind/ hydro
  • Mull – Hydro
  • Mull – Virtual local grid
  • Sleat – Wind

For further information contact:Terry Hegarty – SMILEGOV Project Officer, Scottish Islands Federation / 01681 700600