A new project aims to create a ‘virtual energy system’ in Orkney, with software balancing local supply, storage and demand.
The ReFLEX (Responsive Flexibility) project will monitor generation, grid constraint and energy demand and then use smart control of energy technologies to manage and improve the supply-demand balance, according to the Orkney Islands Council.
This is expected to maximise the use of locally generated renewable energy and decrease Orkney’s reliance on imported carbon-intensive grid electricity from the UK mainland, shrinking the islands’ carbon footprint and making electricity cheaper.
Small batteries will be offered to homes with existing wind and solar technology, while larger ones will be installed at businesses and public buildings.
Other technologies planned to be deployed as part of the project include up to 200 vehicle-to-grid chargers and up to 600 new electric vehicles, as well as smart heating systems and a Doosan industrial-scale hydrogen fuel cell.
Gareth Davies from renewable energy consultancy Aquatera told BBC Scotland: “A key part of this project is to start building in local resilience and capacity within our local energy system.
“To date we’ve relied on UK systems to provide that balancing service. This project is all about delivering that service locally.”
The £28.5m project is funded by the UK Government through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
“What we are seeing here on Orkney is a test bed for the energy system of the future,” commented Claire Perry, the UK Government’s Energy and Clean Growth Minister. “These smart systems are a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy and will provide cheaper, greener and more flexible access to energy for everyone. What we learn from these innovations could one day be rolled out across the UK and exported around the world and we’ll be able to say it was ‘Made in Orkney‘.”