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by Peter Urpeth
03 April 2019
Orkney energy project could tackle fossil fuel demand

Image credit: Colin Keldie, courtesy of Solo Energy

Orkney energy project could tackle fossil fuel demand

A new ‘smart energy’ project launched in Orkney could see the islands become a model for sustainable energy projects around the globe and “reduce and eventually eliminate the need for fossil fuels”, according to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

The ReFLEX (Responsive Flexibility) Orkney project will use a new Virtual Energy System (VES) on the islands to link and monitor electricity, transport and heat systems powered by local renewable energy, to enable the charging of ‘flexible’ storage and battery technologies at times of peak renewable generation for release during times of peak demand.

The project will see up to 500 new domestic batteries installed in island homes, along with new business and large-scale batteries, 200 vehicle-to-grid chargers, 600 new electric vehicles, flexible heating systems and an industrial-scale hydrogen fuel cell.

The ReFLEX project is being led by EMEC and brings together a 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.

In a statement EMEC said: “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”.

UK government Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry said: “What we are seeing here on Orkney is a test bed for the energy system of the future. 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’.”

The first phase of the £28.5m project is being funded by the UK Research and Innovation organisation through its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

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