Five new electric vans costing the public purse £60,000 are about to take to the road as part of a drive to reduce the carbon emissions caused by running council and NHS workers around the isles.
Three of the new fleet will be used by the SIC and council leader Gary Robinson said: “Both the council and the health board are keen to demonstrate that electric vehicles are now a mature, mainstream technology.
“Electric vehicles could contribute to savings of up to five million tons of CO2 per year across Europe by 2020, and these vans will make excellent additions to our fleets. We would hope that other organisations and individuals would think about how they too can contribute to the transition from fossil fuels to alternative forms of transport.
“Shetland’s rich renewable resources lend themselves to this technology and electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles can help give us a sustainable transport future.”
The vehicles are Nissan e-NV200s. They have a range of 106 miles between charges, and can be charged in 30 minutes at a rapid charge point, or overnight from a standard plug to take advantage of off-peak energy costs.
The vehicles are fully funded, on a three-year lease; SIC received £40,000, NHS Shetland £21,000. It is hoped that the Scottish government-funded vehicles will encourage more customers to take the plunge and convert to electric vehicles.
A network of charging points has been installed ranging from Baltasound to Dunrossness and including one in Fetlar. There are six charge points in Lerwick and according to the SIC they “are already being used regularly, as private individuals change from fossil fuel to electric”.
The government wants to decarbonise the road transport sector by 2050 and funding is available for charge points to be installed at homes. Across Scotland it is said many customers use their own wind turbines to charge the vehicles from their own wind power.
NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said: “NHS Shetland is pleased to be supporting this important development. We should all recognise the importance of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and minimising climate change. These vehicles give us the opportunity to show how we can tackle emissions from the considerable mileage our staff need to do to provide health care across Shetland, and I look forward to watching how this progresses”