Fetlar Electric Minibus
As a remote island in Shetland, Fetlar is faced with a number of challenges including access to energy. For example, there is no fuel station on Fetlar, forcing most islanders to leave the island in order to re-fuel motorised vehicles which increases cost and transport related carbon emissions. When the local post office suspended the service of its ‘post bus’ which also functioned as a community vehicle, the islanders came up with the idea to replace it with a community owned electric minibus to provide a ‘dial a ride service’.
As the first phase of the Fetlar’s Green Energy scheme, the Fetlar Electric Minibus started operation in July 2013. The minibus can carry eight passengers plus driver and has been modified to accommodate two wheelchair passengers. As a second phase the islanders hope to install two 20kW wind turbines to supply the vehicle, making the system virtually carbon free. However, the local grid is at capacity, which makes adding new generating capacity difficult. Rather than exporting electricity to the grid, the plan is therefore to use excess energy to provide heating for the local nursery and primary school.
Fetlar is promoting a holistic approach to sustainable energy development on the islands. In addition to the electric minibus this includes measures to reduce domestic energy consumption, promote local food production in order to reduce food miles and provision of further electric vehicle charging points.
Legal structure & set-up
The Fetlar Electric Minibus is operated by R. G. Jamieson and Son in partnership with Fetlar Development Ltd. Fetlar Development Ltd is a company limited by guarantee and registered with a charitable status. The company, which was established in 2008 to address economic challenges and depopulation of the island, is governed by nine voluntary directors and currently employs 1.5 members of staff including a Development Worker. R.G. Jamieson & Son is a commercial company that operates a Dial-a-Ride service on Fetlar now using the electric minibus though the vehicle may also be used by Fetlar Development Ltd outside of service hours.
In 2010 Fetlar Development Ltd was unsuccessful in securing funding from the Climate Challenge Fund, a Scottish Government programme that funds community initiatives to tackle climate change. However, the community did not give up and eventually managed to secure funding from a number of sources including Transport Scotland, LEADER, Shetland Island Council, R.G. Jamieson & Son, an interest free loan from the Energy Saving Trust and interest free bridging finance from the Shetland Charitable Trust.
More recently Fetlar Development Ltd secured around £100,000 (€125,000) through the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) towards the energy use part of phase two but a funding route for the turbines has yet to be found.
- Access to funding
- Grid constraints
- Affordable and convenient transport
- A step towards energy sovereignty
- Decreased dependence on high-carbon fuels
Size of Community
Local population 81
Type of Energy Project
Stage of Development
Fetlar Developments Limited is incorporated
Funding bid submitted to Climate Challenge Fund for minibus and local food project is rejected
Funding target achieved to purchase electric minibus
Electric minibus arrives in Fetlar
Minibus starts operation after driver training
CARES funding secured