Charlie Galli burns trash as part of the Scottish island of Eigg's drive for sustainability. Reuters/Paul Hackett

Eigg's main grid is powered mostly by wind, water, and sun.

The Scottish island of Eigg takes pride in its own self-reliance. Electricity included.

After being bought by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust in 1997 (a partnership between island residents, the Highland Council, and the Scottish Wildlife Trust), Eigg has seen not only an uptick in population (currently home to 83 people) but also the creation of its own electrical grid after depending on diesel generators for years. As locals tell Reuters photographer Paul Hackett, Eigg's new grid gets as much as 95 percent of its energy from a mix of wind, hydro, and solar power.

The grid was subject to referendum discussions in recent months, at the same time as Scotland at large debated its vote on independence from the U.K.: Campaigners for the 'No' vote claimed that Scottish independence would have meant higher prices for renewable energy since the cost would no longer be shared throughout Britain. Nationalists felt that having more control over Scotland's own resources would have meant an easier path to harnessing its own energy potential.

One Eigg resident, Ailidh Morrison, told Scotland's Sunday Post last month that she would be voting Yes, because "...if you look at Eigg as a microcosm of how you can come from nothing, having no infrastructure, no power, no homes, and in 17 years to almost double your population, have infrastructure, have your own independent power system, have houses for people to live in an have an economy that is thriving—not just existing or surviving but thriving—I think you can see what you can do if you give people freedom and responsibility."

Scotland's 'No' camp won Thursday, with 55 percent of referendum voters choosing to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

A man walks to the ferry on the Island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)
Solar panels are seen on the roof of the primary school on the Island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)
Brian Gardner (R) and Ben Cormack fit solar thermal water heaters onto the roof of a cottage on the island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)
Nora Barnes poses for a photograph in her greenhouse, where she grows organic produce with the help of a solar water heater on the island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)
Eddie Scott, team co-ordinator of Eigg electric maintenance team, checks the batteries at the control station of Eigg electric on the island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)
The Whales Head community pub is seen on the Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)
John Booth, who was project director for the Eigg electric project, poses for a photograph next to two wind turbines on the island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)

 

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