Corporate Social Responsibility writer for Justmeans, Antonio Pasolini is a journalist based in Brazil who writes about alternative energy, green living and sustainability. He also edits Energyrefuge.com, a top web destination for news and comment on renewable energy and Elpis.org, a recycled paper bag/magazine distributed from health food stores in London, formerly his hometown for over a decade....
An Island Sails Towards Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency
The Isle of Wight stretches across 23 miles by 13 miles off the English south coast. It is home to a population of 142,500 people, according to 2008/9 estimates. It is well known for a music festival that takes place annually there, attracting hordes of rock fans and top bands. Now the island wants to become recognized for its aim to become sustainable and self-sufficient in terms of energy.
Today (Nov. 15) marks the launch of the EcoIsland Partnership Community Interest Company (CIC), which is being marketed as a Global Innovation Centre for Smart Grid technology. The launch is designed to display to the public how working with Global Partners IBM and Toshiba EcoIsland plans to integrate the Isle of Wight's future wind, tidal, geothermal and solar power.
The Smart Grid initiative is one of the key ingredients in the island's aim to become the first truly sustainable region of the UK. It hopes that Smart Grid technology will power the island's future energy needs and reduce bills by 50%.
"The Isle of Wight community needs to act quickly to avert the possibility of blackouts from increased demands on the UK's electricity generation capacity. We are looking to use the island's natural resources to make it self-sufficient in terms of energy, food, water, fuel and waste-enabling the community to take its destiny back into its own hands" said David Green, Chief Executive of the EcoIsland CIC.
The Island currently draws 600GWh of electricity from the mainland. With plans for a waste to energy plant, research into tidal and geothermal energy and an Island-wide home insulation program, combined with whole house energy solutions and home automation, the community could become energy self sufficient by 2020.
"There is no manual for this endeavor nor are there any existing examples to follow. However that too has its advantages - there is nobody to tell us that it cannot be done", added Mr. Green.
Since February 2011 EcoIsland has managed to raise the first tranche of the £200m private funding required to achieve its goals. It has already hit some of its targets, including a £25m project to install solar photovoltaic panels on 3,500 social houses and upwards, and a reduction in energy bills for the Isle of Wight's 142,000 residents by 50% through increased capture and use of solar, tidal, geothermal, wind power and what it calls a "creative tariff system". Now it is working alongside a number of other partners to deliver key infrastructure objectives.
The outcome of this project remains to be seen but it sets an example of how a community can do it for themselves to shape a green, sustainable future. Local citizens will take a key role in the management and success of the project with meetings in the parishes, an active social media network and an Eco-mobile that attends island events.
Image credit: EcoIsland