Island music festival to be powered by ‘green energy’ generated in Outer Hebrides

One of Scotland's leading summer music festivals has revealed it will be deploying green energy to power one of its main stages this year.

Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 11:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 8:14 am

The Hebridean Celtic Festival, on Lewis, is thought to be the first major festival in Scotland to use “green hydrogen” for its full duration.

The Scottish Government is supporting the ground-breaking initiative – announced ahead of the festival‘s 25th anniversary edition next month – via funding from its agency EventScotland.

The festival, which brings an audience of up to 18,000 music fans to Stornoway each summer, has joined forces with a new clean power start-up company, which was launched on neighbouring Harris last year.

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PlusZero replaces traditional diesel generators with portable zero-carbon alternatives entirely powered by renewable electricity generated in the Outer Hebrides and do not produce any harmful emissions.

A system called an electrolyser uses surplus electricity produced by local onshore renewable wind power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The company says its collaboration with HebCelt will save more than 1,000 litres of diesel and around three tonnes of carbon emissions – the equivalent of 27 car journeys from Edinburgh to Stornoway and back.

PlusZero ran pilot projects last year during two concerts at a pop-up venue at the Edinburgh International Festival, as well as at several events in Glasgow and Edinburgh during the COP26 climate summit.

The Hebridean Celtic Festival is held in the grounds of Lews Castle in Stornoway. Picture: Colin Cameron

The clean energy collaboration is the latest in a series of sustainability initiatives rolled out by HebCelt, where 12 bands will be powered by green hydrogen.

The festival introduced reusable cups at its main arena in 2015 and brought in a complete ban on “single use” plastic bottles three years later.

HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “We’ve always been committed to finding ways to lessen our carbon emissions and to have an environmentally sensitive event.

“To be able to make this significant step, which will see truly green energy used for one of our stages throughout the festival, is very welcome.

The Hebridean Celtic Festival is held in Stornoway each July. Picture: Colin Cameron

"The fact we can source the power from a local provider who, in turn, is using renewable energy in the production process makes this development all the more attractive.

“We’re grateful to EventScotland whose funding helps to make this possible. Their continued support has been vital to our bouncing back from the pandemic.

“We’re also delighted to be working with PlusZero who are breaking new ground with their innovative technology and ideas. We’re sure our festival-goers will be excited to hear that we’re doing everything we can for the environment.”

PlusZero has just opened a new production facility in Stornoway, where HebCelt is held each year.

Clean energy firm PlusZero will be helping to power the HebCelt festival on the Isle of Lewis next month.

PlusZero managing director David Amos said: “For 25 years, HebCelt has brought together Scotland’s best traditional musicians and creatives to celebrate our shared musical heritage and culture.

“To provide zero-emissions power for an iconic event that has such a strong community identity, using green hydrogen produced here in the Outer Hebrides, is a source of great pride.

“Though rooted in tradition, its commitments to environmental well-being speak to the progressiveness of the Outer Hebrides community.

“Our partnership demonstrates we can share in the joy of live music events whilst at the same time minimising the impact of their footprint on our precious environment, preserving it for generations to come.”

Paul Bush, VisitScotland’s director of events, said: “HebCelt has been central to the Outer Hebrides’ cultural offering for a quarter of a century now and it’s fantastic to see them not only mark this anniversary in style, but do so with such a focus on green energy.

“Scotland has an international reputation for its natural heritage, so it is important that events work in tandem with wider efforts in these areas offering sustainability for both the environment and the future of the industry.”