The ReFLEX Orkney project is aiming to integrate electricity, transport and heat networks in the Scottish Islands, using advanced software to balance supply and demand.
Energy Systems Catapult is providing ReFLEX with expert guidance and support through our Energy Revolution Integration Service, including systems integration and application of our Aspects of Integration framework to help develop their Basis of Design.
The project is part of the UK Government’s investment in research and industry in order to develop smart energy systems through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – Prospering from the Energy Revolution.
Despite Orkney having significant renewable energy resources and producing 130% of the electricity it needs through existing installed renewable generation, a constrained electricity network is causing high levels of ‘curtailment’ – where wind turbines are switched off to protect the network from overloading.
This limits the economic efficiency of existing turbines, and the ability to install more capacity that will be required as the demand increases to support electric vehicles, and electrified heating systems.
Energy prices for residents are typically very high partially due to the amount of fuel needed for heating and transport. Plus there is no gas network and therefore homes and businesses rely on either electricity or oil to provide heat. This, in conjunction with Orkney’s older housing stock and the cold local climate, mean the area has one of the highest fuel poverty ratings in the UK (63%).
The Orkney’s independent location means it is the ideal location to demonstrate the capabilities of a self-contained smart energy network. The opportunity to harness the excess renewable energy generated that is currently wasted, along with a will to increase the amount of low carbon energy and reduce fuel poverty, forms the main driver for the Reflex demonstration project.
The ReFLEX Orkney project
ReFLEX Orkney is installing FLEXible technologies to address the constraints in the energy network that cause system inefficiencies and demonstrate a Responsive Virtual Energy System which links these networks together.
Tom Heap from BBC Radio 4: Costing the Earth visits Orkney to see how hydrogen storage, huge batteries and electric ferries and cars can be lashed together with clever software to remove fossil fuels from an entire energy system.
The aim is to allow electricity production to be maximised, efficiencies to be recovered, and new business models to be proven, meaning energy can be supplied at minimum cost to the consumer.
The project will last for 36 months and include the installation and operation of multiple technologies including:
- Hydrogen Fuel Cell for the provision of electricity and heat
- Domestic energy storage
- Commercial energy storage
- Vehicle to grid charging infrastructure
- Ground source heat pump systems
- Building management systems
- Integrated Grid-smart community-led transport system and infrastructure
A Virtual Power Plant System will combine the above infrastructure alongside existing infrastructure on Orkney to demonstrate the capabilities of a smart energy system; linking together the electricity, heat and transport energy networks to create a system of maximum efficiency and value for consumers, generators, suppliers and operators within the energy system.
Work is also underway 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, with reduced upfront cost for end users.
Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, ReFLEX Orkney is one of 25 Smart Local Energy System projects that formed part of the Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme.
Energy Systems Catapult created the Energy Revolution Integration Service (ERIS) – to providing expert guidance and support to SLES projects across the UK, as part of the £100 million Innovate UK funded Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER) programme under the Clean Growth Industrial Challenge.
Capabilities supporting the ReFLEX project include:
- Aspects of Integration – this framework developed by the ERIS team is helping to explore the solution architecture for the Virtual Power Plant System. It has recognised that a separate design team was needed to be established to take ownership of the integrated energy system design.