Orkney Renewable Energy Forum and Orkney International Science Festival are delighted to announce their first collaborative energy challenge, with the aim of encouraging folk of all ages to learn more about renewable energy and have fun designing, building, and testing their own renewable energy device. For our first challenge we are focusing on the power of the wind.  

James Blyth

James_Blyth's_1891_windmill (1)The 2021 Blyth Challenge is named after Scottish wind energy pioneer James Blyth, who in the 1880s at his home in Marykirk, built the first wind turbine in the world to produce electricity. Blyth used the electricity produced by his wind turbine to power the lighting in his home and offered his surplus electricity to the people of Marykirk to light the town’s main street, but his offer was rejected as the town’s folk believed electricity was ‘the work of the Devil’.

In 1895, having added improvements to his original design, James Blyth built a wind turbine for the Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary and Dispensary of Montrose, which successfully provided power to the building for the next 30 years.  


James-Blyth-image-1200x675The Challenge

Inspired by James Blyth’s pioneering experiments OISF and OREF challenge you to combine re-use and re-cycling with renewable energy to design and build your own wind turbine from previously used materials. Your turbine should be no more 2 metres in length, breadth or height, and should generate no more than 12 volts DC.

The Blyth Challenge is open to individuals or groups of any age, so school groups, families or groups of friends can get together and form a team – entries from under 18s will need an adult to submit the entry form and take responsibility for safety. 


Each entry should be accompanied by video footage, no longer than 2 minutes, showing the device in operation and including an audio description which includes the details listed in the Challenge Rules.

You can download a copy of the rules here: Blyth Challenge Rules [PDF 47KB]


The overall winning entry will receive a prize of £100. Additional prizes will be awarded for best re-use of materials and most inventive design. All prize winners will receive a year’s membership of OREF.  

To coincide with the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow 31 October – 12 November 2021, winners will be announced, and video entries shown at OREF’s COP26 themed online open meeting on 2nd November.  

To Enter 

You can enter the Blyth Challenge online  – Closing date for entries is 18th October 2021.


There is a Blyth Challenge Facebook Group  which has all the details of the challenge and is a place where you can share ideas, ask questions and keep up to date with Blyth challenge news.  

There is also a Blyth Challenge page on the Orkney International Science Festival website.

Dave Craig from Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland is kindly offering a free pdf with instructions and printable template to create a cardboard windmill; a great resource to get you started and give you inspiration for your own design! To request a copy please email [email protected] 

YESC can provide remote engineering advice/mentoring to school teams (or their teachers). Send requests, from a school email address, to [email protected] with a suggested time.

Any Questions?

Contact us at [email protected]