Isle Of Wight A Possible Green Utopia

Hawaii isn’t the only island seeking to achieve energy independence from the mainland through renewable energy and smart grid tech, as the United Kingdom recently launched its EcoIsland Partnership Community Interest Company (CIC) for the Isle of Wight as a Global Innovation Centre for Smart Grid technology [PDF]. The goal is to make the island the U.K.’s first truly sustainable region through a combination of energy efficient grid infrastructure and clean energy generation.

Working with partners IBM and Toshiba, the U.K. government plans to integrate wind, tidal, geothermal and solar power on the island through smart grid technology, reducing residents’ fuel bills by up to 50 percent.  Since February of this year, the EcoIsland project has raised £200m private funding toward that end, working alongside a number of other partners to deliver infrastructure objectives, including networks linking home installations and renewable technologies on the Isle of Wight with a combination of a wireless mesh and existing communications infrastructure; facilitating grid connections and change with regulation innovations, including tariffs; and providing energy storage and clean fuel production on the island in the form of hydrogen for commercial and private vehicles.

image via Isle of Wight Council

Other achievements of EcoIsland so far include the development of a £25m project to install solar photovoltaic panels on 3,500 houses and more than 500 air-source heat pumps; a pledge of support from 70 different partners across the initiative’s various partner categories; and the evaluation of zero emission transport options including electric cars, bikes, hydrogen vans and green public transport.

The big picture goal is for the Isle of Wight to become a net exporter of energy by 2020 while reducing energy bills for the Isle of Wight’s 142,000 residents by 50 percent through solar, tidal, geothermal and wind power and a feed in tariff system. Green jobs are also in the sights of the project, as is making the island’s Eco Centre a seat of green learning for visitors, UK schools and the local community.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.