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Thu April 02 2020

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Orkney ‘smart’ energy project moves into next phase

5 Feb A project to create a 'smart' energy network in Orkney has been cleared to move forward from feasibility studies into a demonstration phase.

Reflex Orkney, which is funded by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, aims to integrate electricity, transport and heat networks in Orkney using advanced software to balance energy demand and supply.

Work is also now under way to set up a new local energy company to offer advice to local consumers and businesses on their energy needs, as well as providing affordable leasing options for new domestic and commercial batteries, electric vehicles and charging points in Orkney.

This Reflex project is intended to help Orkney maximise the potential of its renewable production capabilities and reduce the county’s carbon footprint by decreasing reliance on imported carbon-intensive grid electricity from the UK mainland. The project's first feasibility stage has now been approved by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The project had been backed by Orkney Islands Council last summer.

The consortium carrying out the project is led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and includes locally-based partners Aquatera, Solo Energy, Community Energy Scotland, Heriot-Watt University and Orkney Islands Council, as well as energy company Doosan Babcock.

Rob Saunders, challenge director for Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER) at UKRI, said: “Reflex Orkney is a key component of the PFER Challenge and is showcasing how intelligent local energy systems of the future can bring about real benefits for users. It is therefore testament to the hard work and innovation amongst the Reflex team that they have successfully passed this first stage review.

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"Clean energy, delivered across smart and efficient local networks will play a major role in achieving the net zero goals of 2050. The successful progress of demonstration projects like Reflex highlight the opportunities that are available to the UK through this kind of innovation. We look forward to working with Reflex on the next stage of their project.”

On behalf of the Reflex Orkney project partners, Aquatera managing director Gareth Davies said: “Over the last nine months, the Reflex project partners have been hard at work assessing the feasibility of the project, developing the service offerings, and working out how best to deliver a progressive energy system within an out of date regulatory framework.

“The consumer services under development will be rolled out later in 2020 and are expected to include attractive and more affordable electricity tariffs, access to a wide range of EVs and other decarbonised energy technologies. It is also planned to deliver a range of rental or leasing options to try and make the adoption of such energy solutions as easy and affordable as possible for everyone.

“Reflex Orkney is a world first and recognises the key role Orkney has played in UK energy over the last half a century from oil and gas through to wave and tidal energy. Once demonstrated and proven in Orkney, it is expected that the model can then be replicated in other areas across the UK and internationally – helping to create more flexible and renewable-friendly energy systems.”

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