The first phase of the new £28.5m project to create a virtual energy system (VES) has been launched to create a digital link between distributed and intermittent renewable generation to respond to changes in demand.
The Reflex (Responsive Flexibility) Orkney project will demonstrate a VES system interlinking local electricity, transport, and heat networks into one controllable, overarching network.
The project seeks to create a ‘smart energy island’, demonstrating the energy system of the future, with the aim of reducing and eventually eliminating the need for fossil fuels.
The project is funded by UKRI through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. 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’.”
Led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), the Reflex Orkney project brings together a consortium of Orkney-based partners – Solo Energy, Aquatera, Community Energy Scotland, Heriot-Watt University and Orkney Islands Council – as well as energy company Doosan Babcock.
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 leasing-type finance and novel ways of ownership that avoid the end user requiring major capital investment.
This project is intened to help Orkney maximise the potential of its significant renewable generation capabilities. 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 project partners.
On behalf of the Reflex Orkney project partners, Neil Kermode, managing director at EMEC said: “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.”