Scoraig Wind Electric
Like others, Hugh Piggott moved to Scoraig, a remote peninsula in the north-west of Scotland, in the 1970s to permanently live off-grid; a lifestyle he had enjoyed during holidays as a child. While he initially relied on an oil lamp for light, this became impractical as his own family grew. Some neighbours already made use of the local climate, which favours wind generators to produce electricity and soon Hugh Piggott began his obsession with wind generators that continues to this day. Over time his wind turbines evolved from contraptions assembled from recycled parts to carefully designed wind generators using rare earth magnets.
Today households and the local school on Scoraig are served by approximately 30 turbines ranging in size from 500 watts to 6kW (or 2.4-5 metres in diameter). Most have been built from scratch locally, some are factory manufactured Proven machines, ten or so machines were designed by Hugh but originally built in Zimbabwe and one turbine was given to Hugh by a colleague from South Africa. As there is no grid infrastructure, electricity is saved in individual battery banks, often backed-up by diesel generators. There are also an increasing number of solar photovoltaic installations to complement electricity generation from wind but only a few buildings use hydro power or solar thermal to heat water.
Legal structure & set-up
Scoraig Wind Electric is the name Hugh Piggott uses for his business activities as a sole trader. In terms of income generation his main business is the sale of equipment such as batteries and inverters and to a lesser degree installation and maintenance work on Scoraig. However, this is actually a small part of what Hugh does and subsidises his other work. Hugh’s passion for wind over the past four decades encompasses a wide range of activities that includes the design of small wind generators, sharing his skills through workshops on how to build small wind turbines or generally helping people with hands-on renewable technology. He has also written a number of publications including his ‘A Wind Turbine Recipe Book’.
Through Hugh’s involvement in international projects and the people that have adapted his designs around the world, an international network has emerged that is formalised by Wind Empowerment, an “association for the development of locally built small wind turbines for sustainable rural electrification”.*
In the spirit of self-reliance people on Scoraig take responsibility for financing energy systems themselves. The notion of waiting for government funding streams to become available is not on the agenda. It is therefore not surprising that none of the approximately twenty households on Scoraig have applied for off-grid Feed-in Tariffs, which is associated with ‘too much fuss’ regarding administration and installation of metering equipment.
To reduce cost, second-hand equipment such as batteries may be utilised and of course people do not shy away from learning the necessary skills to carry out work themselves. Systems are typically upgraded every 10-20 years while battery banks are more likely to be replaced every five years.
- Unrealistic expectations by those new to small wind generators of the amount of money they can save
- Provides electricity for those who enjoy living off-grid
- Enjoyment of learning and passing on practical skills
- Adaptation of small DIY turbines around the world
* For more information visit www.windempowerment.org
Size of Community
Average of 70 local residents, global outreach
Type of Energy Project
DIY / off-grid wind
Stage of Development
... the wind turbines we install [in Palestine] are ”home-brewed”. We build them ourselves based on the Hugh Piggott model. This way we not only reduce costs of production and maintenance, but are also able to continuously improve reliability and efficiency and adjust the systems to the conditions on the ground.
2010 Annual Report - Comet-ME
Hugh Piggott settles on Scoraig
Starts to experiment with wind generators
Early publications including articles for the Centre of Alternative Technology
Shift to rare earth magnets
First direct involvement in an international aid project (Zimbabwe)
First wind turbine recipe book is published