A major new effort is underway to ensure a Scottish island does not endure another winter blighted by blackouts.
The Isle of Rum is not connected to the National Grid, with most of its electricity supplied from hydro turbines, with diesel back-up – much of it dating back more than a century.
Last winter saw islanders suffer a large number of power cuts, but now the Isle of Rum Community Trust is seeking a contractor to carry out a feasibility study to restore full generating capacity of the hydroelectric power system on the island.
The winner of the £12,500 contract is being asked to produce a preliminary design and a comprehensive refurbishment recommendation.
A spokesman for IRCT said: “The island operates an off-grid electricity system that was installed in the early 1900’s.
“This system provides all electrical power to the inhabitants. It has been repaired and improved in stages over the past 40 years, including, but not limited to, the addition of battery storage.
“The system is quite old and, unfortunately, has become increasingly more unreliable with some elements approaching end of life.
“Overall system efficiency is low and currently fails to maximise extraction of renewable energy from the hydro resource.”
He added: “The most recent winter period experienced an extended breakdown of a few months.
“This has a significant financial and environmental cost as in these situations the diesel backup generators are required to provide all power.”
As the amount of power available is, limited the use of too many high powered items at one time can overload the system and cause a blackout.
The use of high powered devices such as electric cookers, heaters and power showers is discouraged.
The Isle of Rum Community Trust was established in 2007 with the aim of ‘promoting rural regeneration following the principles of sustainable development.’
Eco-homes have been built in an attempt to reverse population decline and encourage new people to move to Rum.