Orkney has been in the process of easing restrictions put in place due to COVID-19 pandemic. During the summer months residents were given permission to meet others, as long as it did not exceed 15 people outside and 8 people inside, and were encouraged to support local businesses if social distancing rules were maintained.
During this period, SMILE Project Partner Community Energy Scotland (CES) has been working with our project participants and our local service team R.S Merrimans to visit properties and conduct maintenance and installs, while adhering to social distancing protocols. Helping to maintain the safety of both the project’s participants and members of the service team.
As of the 22nd September, both the United Kingdom and Scottish governments have increased constraints on social activity once again, restricting the number of people that can meet in public to six and banning meetings within a household. One exemption is for trades people, who are still allowed to visit households to carry out work.
As such, currently the SMILE local team is visiting participants to progress the project but will be unable to conduct any maintenance or installations if a member of the household is currently required to self-isolate.
On the ground, Orkney is in the final stages of the installation process with less than 20% of project equipment still to be activated. This is on track to be completed within the coming months as they continue to work in conjunction with the current public health measures.
Community Energy Scotland at the Virtual Island Summit 2020
For this year’s Orkney International Science Festival, Community Energy Scotland collaborated with Orkney Renewable Energy Forum and Island Innovation to shine a light on some of the local community energy projects on Orkney, and how these are paving the way for future energy developments. This event was part of the Virtual Island Summit 2020, organised by Island Innovation aiming to connect islands and share experiences, ideas and solutions between global communities.
During the event, community-led organisations based in Orkney, as well as CES’ Head of Innovation, Mark Hull held interventions. Representatives from each group described how they have developed solutions to overcome their own energy challenges, while ensuring the whole community can secure value and benefit from local renewable energy resources.
A range of case studies were presented, including the establishment of community-owned turbines across various island communities in Orkney and how these have supported subsequent community projects, including local heating and transport solutions. Local demonstration projects such as the Orkney SMILE project were also discussed to highlight some of the opportunities for communities to be at the forefront of new sustainable energy projects and innovations.