ReFLEX Orkney is a pioneering £28.5 million project that will create an integrated energy system in Orkney, digitally linking renewable generation with consumer demand.
Standing for ‘responsive flexibility’, the scheme will help Orkney maximise the potential of its renewable energy production by using excess energy created here and reduce the reliance on electricity imported from the UK mainland. The aim is to turn Orkney into ‘smart energy islands’, hopefully leading the way to the eventual elimination of the need for fossil fuels.
ReFLEX Orkney, funded by UKRI, is being led by the European Marine Energy Centre and brings together a range of local partners, including Orkney Islands Council, power storage specialists SMS Ltd, Heriot-Watt University, Community Energy Scotland, and energy and environmental consultants Aquatera.
Made up of a network of technologies, including batteries for homes and businesses and electric vehicles, the ReFLEX integrated energy system (IES) will balance out variable local renewables generation.
That means state-of-the-art monitoring of the Orkney IES network will make sure energy storage systems get charged when renewables generation is at a peak, with that power then released back into the grid when demand is highest.
A major milestone of the project was reached at the beginning of December 2020 with the launch of ReFLEX Orkney Ltd, a new local energy company, which will offer a range of green energy services to Orkney residents, including a dedicated renewable electricity tariff, electric vehicle leasing options and support with the installation of EV chargers.
Affordable leasing options for new domestic and commercial batteries will also be available and community initiatives, including electric buses, a local electric car club and the integration of green hydrogen for storage and transport, will form part of the project too.
Future plans include a focus on battery storage linking with micro-generation and a heating installation service to help lower energy bills and reduce carbon emissions.
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Orkney is already a net exporter of renewable energy, with over 100 per cent of the islands’ yearly electricity demand met by renewable generation.
The ambitious project will further strengthen Orkney’s global standing as a low-carbon centre of excellence, while demonstrating the effectiveness of flexible and renewable friendly electricity grids to the rest of the world.