Skip to content

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

January 18, 2019

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!

  1. Immune to propaganda permalink
    January 18, 2019 4:51 pm

    It’s silly season on the Scilly Isles!

  2. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 18, 2019 5:25 pm

    On the Energy Matters site there have been many posts about El Hierro – an island model for a sustainable energy future. That’s the title of the first post on 14 Nov 2014.
    This is an interesting and continuing story – I think funded by the good people of Spain. [ I’ve had computer/software problems trying to comment there. So no longer try.]

    The Isles of Scilly folks have added the word “smart” to the headline.
    Other than that, it looks like the same “other people’s money” scam to prevent more plant food from being added to the atmosphere – at great cost.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 19, 2019 12:18 am

      John – you should try commenting. When you submit your comment you may get all sorts of weird and wonderful messages. Just ignore them. You probably will have to wait for the comment to appear, because most comments join the moderation queue (even Euan’s own ones according to him!).

  3. January 18, 2019 5:37 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  4. January 18, 2019 5:49 pm

    You left out the part about sunlight being free, unlimited and sustainable and the contribution to keeping the global temperature from rising above 1.5C in the next xxx years. That eliminates all this silly flutter about high cost for very little, undependable electricity.

    If I convert to solar in the sunny and warm Virginny climes, it will pay for itself if I live to 105. If that’s a deal, surely a few panels totaling 450kW is a super deal.

    • Gamecock permalink
      January 19, 2019 10:14 pm

      “Lord, I can’t die yet! I still owe money on this smart solar installation!”

      • January 20, 2019 3:19 pm

        One of my relatives said he wanted to die owing money so people would cry at his funeral. I could do that.

      • Dave Fair permalink
        January 21, 2019 11:31 pm

        Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go; I owe my soul to the green power ho. [Apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford.]

  5. Tom O permalink
    January 18, 2019 6:47 pm

    Smart power and the internet of things. What a wonderful sounding combination. Now some real thoughts about what that would mean. To me, the only way “smart power” and IoT could lower usage is when it gets colder, it automatically sets thermostats LOWER and when it gets hotter, the opposite would be true. Let’s face it, the only way a “socialized system for the greater good” can possible work is by overriding the choices of the individual. Doesn’t that sound nice? To keep your Curly florescent light on when the temperatures outside drop to 0C, the system will throttle your thermostat down to whatever temperature is necessary, for the greater good. count on it.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      January 18, 2019 8:40 pm

      “A “socialized system”

      Funny (or maybe not?) you should say that, since I misread the first sentence as “Hitachi Socialist Innovation Forum”!

      As for the Internet of Things – I hope that Hitachi change the default passwords on the gadgets they install. IoT devices being hacked is a regular topic at “tech” forums like The Register…

    • Russ Wood permalink
      January 20, 2019 1:42 pm

      As a retired software engineer, what the “Internet of Things” means to me is a “horde of ‘bots”! Anything (even a refrigerator) that’s open to the Internet without a decent firewall and some anti-virus stuff can be compromised. I’ve heard of ‘smart’ cameras that upload your shots to “the Cloud” being turned into ‘bots that can dump anything into anywhere, once compromised. Back in the “old days”, when I used to dial-up into the Internet, my software firewall used to report attempts to get into my computer being made every couple of SECONDS.

  6. markl permalink
    January 18, 2019 7:49 pm

    Smart meters are nothing more than a way to ration electricity to stay within the supply. They are just getting people ready for the inevitable lack of reliability caused by reliance on wind and solar power…..and charging you more for the “honor”.

  7. Jon Scott permalink
    January 18, 2019 9:02 pm

    I have seen the weazel word “sustainability used totally out of context by estate agents, hairdressers, law firms and incredibly recruitment agencies. What happens when you bankrupt an EXISTING sustainable infrastructure and repace it with virtue signalling by people who demonstrable do not have a balanced view of reality? This is wilfull criminality.

  8. Jeff permalink
    January 19, 2019 2:29 am

    I wonder if Western Power are on board with this.
    They just spent a lot fixing the undersea power cable.

    I guess they will still be expected to maintain it, for backup,
    but they maybe won’t be getting much in return from normal electricity bills.

  9. JimW permalink
    January 19, 2019 3:21 am

    I am quite proud to say that I worked on the original project for this cable in the 80s at what was then SWEB. The diesel power station at St Mary’s was rated at 5.7MW and the cable was 7.5MW. The rationale originally was to provide cheaper electricity from the mainland to allow for E7 storage heating to be sold to all islanders. It did that job, the twin peak loads of evening and nightime ( about 2am) were about 4.5MW each.
    However the economics just based on islanders demand could not justify the cost of the cable. But crucially the continuing ability of the St Mary’s generators provided system security on the mainland by providing reactive power support. The SWEB network beyond Penzance was just a ‘loose wire’ before the St Mary’s PS was plugged in. The sums then worked.
    This of course was in the days when electricity engineers were in charge of network and generation planning.
    I only hope that Western Power have some left, it sounds like they will be needed.

  10. January 19, 2019 9:16 am

    There are only nine miles of proper roads on the main island, none on the others. Those expensive electric cars won’t be doing much motoring there.

  11. Gerry, England permalink
    January 19, 2019 12:11 pm

    I hope that the Oxford English Dictionary will be updated its definition of the word ‘smart’ before too long. Perhaps we could help them with some new ones. A dumb idea thought up by subsidised consultants and fed to ignorant moron politicians who implement it?

  12. Gamecock permalink
    January 19, 2019 10:31 pm

    There is nothing sustainable about 2300 people living on 6 square miles. They will be forever dependent on shipments of food and energy.

    Tourism is 85% of their economy. 100% of tourists are delivered by fossil fuels.

    “The Isles of Scilly are navigating towards a smart and sustainable future.”

    A willing suspension of disbelief is required to accept this preposterous assertion. We have proof the Telegraph is corrupt.

  13. It doesn't add up... permalink
    January 20, 2019 12:38 am

    I had a look at the detailed consumption data for the Scillies in 2017.

    Economy 7 meters…… 4,060,559
    Standard meters………. 3,957,039
    All domestic……………. 8,017,597
    All non-domestic………. 9,523,419
    Total consumption……. 17,541,016

    I’m sure the solar will come in handy for those Economy 7 meters. Looks like it will generate only about 2.5% of consumption.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: