Outer Hebrides - UK

The Outer Hebrides is an archipelago of islands reaching from Lewis in the north to Vatersay in the south off the north-west coast of mainland Scotland. A buoyant tourism and textiles industry flourishes across the islands and is home to incredible natural resources hosting some of the best wind, wave and tidal energy opportunities in Europe. The 26,500 inhabitants of the Outer Hebrides are spread over 15 inhabited islands with the commercial and cultural hub of the region being Stornoway on Lewis with over 6,000 people. Gaelic language and culture are incredibly important in the Outer Hebrides with Gaelic being the first language for many.

Despite having world class energy resources, the local electricity grid is heavily constrained which significantly affects the number of new projects that can be developed in the region. However, grid constraints have helped to foster some innovative and enterprising local energy economy solutions to match local energy generation with local energy demand and such as OHLEH, the Barra and Uist Local Energy Plans and Western Isles Energy in Motion.

Highlights from the peer-learning visit to the Outer Hebrides - May 2023

RIPEET peer-learning visit to Barra and Vatersay, in the Outer Hebrides gathered stakeholders from the mirror ecosystems in the Aran Islands and La Reunion in a 3-days programme focusing on sharing regional practices, challenges and innovative solutions on energy transition.

Watch the video to learn more about the mirror regions' representatives experience and the main takeaways from the visit!

Learn more about the Outer Hebrides pilot solution!

There is a high dependency on ICE cars due to lifestyles, culture and a lack of other transport options. These factors mean that communities across the Outer Hebrides face significant barriers in transitioning to a decarbonised energy system.

Fuel poverty is another area of specific concern to the Outer Hebrides. The most recent Scottish Government figures show that 36% of all households in the Outer Hebrides are in Fuel Poverty (approximately 3000 houses). This is the highest figure in Scotland, the average being 25%. This issue is at the heart of Outer Hebrides energy strategy, as fuel poverty in the Outer Hebrides is expected to be reasonably eradicated by 2040. No more than 5% of households will be fuel poor, no more than 1% will be in extreme fuel poverty, while local energy costs will be equal to those on the mainland. 

Role in RIPEET

The majority of energy developments to date have focussed on onshore wind but there are a number of small-scale hydro projects as well as many domestic scale wind, solar PV and solar thermal installations.

There is significant interest in building a green Hydrogen economy in the Outer Hebrides powered by local on and off-shore wind developments. This green hydrogen revolution will be centred around the planned Net Zero Hub at Arnish as well as decarbonising Stornoway gas grid to use hydrogen instead of carbon-based fuel. Local communities are also exploring options around hydrogen for use in ferries and larger road transport.

Outer Hebrides

Transition Lab

The Outer Hebrides RIPEET Transition Lab has a broad range of stakeholders from across the public, private, academic, third sector and environmental sectors.

We are all excited to be developing an approach to energy transition that is accessible, inclusive and strongly rooted in the needs of our region and we look forward to sharing our experiences with the RIPEET mirror regions.

The Outer Hebrides has a vibrant, active and mature community energy sector with over 23MW of community owned energy infrastructure being operational in the region.

There are also 22.2MW of renewable energy being generated from commercial windfarms or hydro schemes in the area totalling 45.5MW of green energy being generated, used and exported from the Outer Hebrides.  

Learn more about RIPEET impact and results in the Outer Hebrides: