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.
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’.”
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
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.