Orkney leads the way in Scotland’s renewables success

Aerial View of Orkney Landscape - Scotland Renewables

At a regional level, the Orkney Islands are the standout low carbon powerhouse across the whole of the UK, with the equivalent of one-in-five homes having some form of MCS certified small-scale installation since 2008.


The Orkney Renewable Energy Forum (OREF) works to reduce the Islands’ dependency on fossil fuels and motivate homeowners to take steps towards net-zero. 

One of the main drivers for renewable heating and power in Orkney is the cost of energy. The climate in Orkney is generally wetter, windier and cooler than many other places in the UK, so heating is generally on for longer in the year meaning that energy prices are a particular issue. 

Wind power was of initial interest in Orkney, with the Islands’ population of just over 22,000 people installing over one-ninth of all FiT-eligible wind power in the UK but this has since expanded to include domestic solar PV electricity. 


Contractor installing a heat pump
An installer carrying out an air source heat pump installation – a popular renewable energy technology on Orkney

The falling cost of solar PV has seen its popularity grow. OREF reports that the availability of certified battery storage systems alongside solar panels has helped this demand grow even further. The average cost of solar panels is now 88% lower in Orkney than it was in 2010. 

There are also local policies driving the uptake of small-scale renewables alongside the hard work of OREF members. The Orkney Islands Council has implemented its Sustainable Energy Strategy until 2025 and a supporting Action Plan. The strategy sets specific targets for Orkney to reduce carbon emissions, eradicate fuel poverty, develop a secure net-zero energy supply and position itself as a globally recognised region for innovation in energy systems. 


Home Energy Scotland also introduced interest-free loans of up to £17,500 for homeowners fitting renewable heating and energy technologies, making the upfront capital costs of systems more affordable and achievable for the average homeowner. The move has led to an uptake of renewable heating systems alongside energy technologies, with Orkney also recording high levels of air source heat pump installations.  

The OREF hopes to continue its work of the past 22 years into the future and keep growing its now 150-strong membership of local individuals and businesses. Speaking of the importance of community collaboration, they told us they regularly ‘gather together to discuss energy conservation and new renewable technologies, and, in doing so, we inform ourselves and also motivate others to take steps.’ 


Our Low Carbon Landscapes report includes valuable insights into the deployment of small-scale renewables across all Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As we continue to towards net-zero targets, this data is important to view the growth of the industry and to witness the success in homeowners investing in home-grown energy.  

View the near-real-time data on our data dashboard, providing insights on the uptake of small-scale renewables across all regions including a breakdown of each technology type.