Energy system of the future to be demonstrated in Orkney
The first phase of a new £28.5 million project to create a Virtual Energy System (VES) in Orkney, Scotland, has been launched to digitally link distributed and intermittent renewable generation to flexible demand.
The ReFLEX (Responsive Flexibility) Orkney project will demonstrate a first-of-its-kind Virtual Energy System (VES) interlinking local electricity, transport, and heat networks into one controllable, overarching system.
The project aims to create a ‘smart energy island’, demonstrating the energy system of the future, which will reduce and eventually eliminate the need for fossil fuels.
The project is funded by UKRI through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Led by Periscope partner EMEC, the ReFLEX Orkney project brings together an expert consortium of Orkney-based partners – Solo Energy, Aquatera, Community Energy Scotland, Heriot-Watt University and Orkney Islands Council – as well as multi-national energy company Doosan Babcock.
Electricity, transport and heat powered by local renewable energy generation, will be coupled with flexible energy demand balancing the intermittency of renewables.
At the heart of the project is the demonstration of flexible energy balancing technologies. For example, the project aims to deploy:
* Up to 500 domestic batteries;
* Up to 100 business and large-scale batteries;
* Up to 200 Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) chargers;
* Up to 600 new electrical vehicles (EVs);
* An island community-powered electric bus and e-bike integrated transport system;
* Up to 100 flexible heating systems; and
* A Doosan industrial-scale hydrogen fuel cell.
Solo Energy will implement their FlexiGrid software platform enabling smart monitoring and control of the flexible technologies to charge during periods of peak local renewable generation, and release stored energy during times of peak demand.
These technologies will be introduced under attractive leasing type finance and novel ways of ownership that avoid the end user requiring major capital investment.
This pioneering project will help Orkney maximise the potential of its significant renewable generation capabilities, help to ensure higher quality and more affordable energy services, as well as further lowering the county’s carbon footprint by decreasing reliance on imported carbon-intensive grid electricity from the UK mainland.
Once demonstrated and proven in Orkney, it is expected that the VES model and associated integrated energy service supply framework will be replicated in other areas across the UK and internationally, building long term export opportunities for the ReFLEX project partners and helping to create more flexible and renewable-based energy systems.
On behalf of the ReFLEX Orkney project partners, Neil Kermode, Managing Director at EMEC said:
“We’re delighted that UKRI have funded this project. This new model will demonstrate how we can better interact with, own and manage our integrated energy systems locally, both at individual and community level.
“50% of the project is being funded privately indicating the appetite that exists within the partners to make this project work. Orkney has already demonstrated high commitment for local sustainable energy solutions and the county is well on its way to decarbonising each aspect of the energy system.
“The target for Orkney is to have a negative carbon footprint and this pioneering project will build upon the existing local energy system, local infrastructure and local expertise, to accelerate this transition to a fully sustainable and flexible energy system.”