Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
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.