Isles of Scilly “Smart” Energy Future To Come At Crippling Cost

By Paul Homewood


h/t Chris


This was in the Telegraph a couple of months ago:



Remoteness need not preclude integration into the 21st century, as a case study at the 2018 Hitachi Social Innovation Forum in London today makes clear. The event, hosted by The Telegraph, brings together 350 global business leaders to explore how IoT (internet of things) technologies can transform communities and corporations.

The Isles of Scilly lie in the Atlantic Ocean about 30 miles off Land’s End in the far south west of mainland Britain. Average domestic electricity consumption in the islands is among the highest in the UK. There is no natural gas supply and locals rely on imported fossil fuels and electricity.

So the Isles of Scilly are fertile ground for Hitachi’s £10.8m Smart Energy Islands project, a scheme that is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and a collaboration with UK smart home technology companies PassivSystems and Moixa. The project aims to demonstrate how smart technology can get greater efficiency from renewable energy generation.

Ram Ramachander, chief commercial officer, Hitachi Europe, said that as a result of the scheme it should be simpler to deploy IoT technology in the UK at large scale. “This project is a priority for our social innovation business,” he says.

Social innovation is Hitachi’s concept that the greater good is the most productive way to drive innovation. It places Hitachi well to respond to societal issues and, like others, the company has made the link between its social innovation business and the 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals. These provide significant business opportunities if they can be harnessed. For Hitachi to properly realise the potential of its IoT technology, he says “we must start satisfying customer demand [in order] to play a relevant role in decarbonising the economy”.


During the summer of this year, solar panels rated at about 450kW were installed in the islands on the roofs of local council homes, a fire station, the recycling facility and the desalination plant. A solar garden is being planned for the airport. Overall, the islands’ renewable capacity will be almost doubled and 450 tonnes of CO2 will be saved every year. One hundred homes (10pc of all those in the Isles of Scilly) are getting home energy management systems, while 10 homes are piloting additional smart energy technologies such as smart batteries and air source heat pumps.

By integrating solar power, smart heating technologies and batteries, the scheme will make 100 homes more energy-efficient, while also providing sustainable energy support to 200 businesses in the islands and nearby Cornwall. A not-for-profit community interest company, the Isles of Scilly Community Venture, will sell power generated by the panels and recycle the income to cut electricity bills for all islanders through a special islands energy tariff, in a partnership with a not-for-profit licensed energy provider, Our Power.

The Isles of Scilly have committed to the Smart Islands Programme, a multi-utility approach addressing energy, waste and water resources, which aims to cut electricity bills. The next stage is to introduce electric vehicles to the new energy system, which can also be used as batteries, charged up when renewable power is in high supply and drawing energy from them during peak demand.


Doing some simple number crunching, there are about 1000 homes on the Isles of Scilly, so a cost of £10.8m equates to £10,800 each.

Scale that up across the UK, and we would be looking at about £291bn.

And exactly what are the inhabitants of the Scillies getting for £10m? A handful of solar panels and 100 homes getting “smart energy technology” (which apparently is something to do with the Internet of Things, according to the project report).

This project report, by the way, makes clear that the £10.8m is merely for this first stage, and does not cover future stages covering electric cars or battery storage.


We can crank some numbers:

The installation of solar panels has a rating of 450 KW. To this we can add 50 KW for the airport solar garden. This capacity should generate around 438,000 KWh a year. At a retail price of, say, 15p per KWh, this electricity would be worth just £65,700, hardly a worthwhile return on a capital outlay of £10.8m!


This extra 438,000 KWh equates to 438 KWh per household. The project report says that average home use on the Scillies is 6610 KWh, so the output from this project would only meet 6% of domestic electricity consumption. The capital cost of £10.8m works out at £10,800 per home.


And despite all of this cost, the Scillies will still be totally reliant on power from the mainland, when the sun is not shining.


And they call it “smart” energy!


January 18, 2019 at 10:48AM

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