An “attractive local energy tariff” is to be launched in Orkney this year after a £28.5 million “world first” scheme to maximise the benefits of the islands’ renewable power production for residents was given the go-ahead for its next stage of development.
The ReFlex Orkney project aims to integrate electricity, transport and heat networks, using advanced software to balance demand and supply from wind and marine generation, with the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating reliance on fossil fuels.
Following a feasibility study, a local energy firm is now being set up to offer advice to households and businesses, as well as “affordable leasing options” for new domestic and commercial batteries, electric vehicles and charging points in Orkney.
Led by the European Marine Energy Centre (Emec), the consortium behind the project includes locally-based renewables companies Aquatera and Solo Energy, Community Energy Scotland, Heriot-Watt University and Orkney Islands Council, as well as multi-national group Doosan Babcock.
They are being funded by UK Government agency UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which recently gave the green light for the next phase of the project.
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the project, developing the service offerings and working out how best to deliver a progressive energy system within an out-of-date regulatory framework.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 electric vehicles 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.”
Mr Davies added: “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.”
UKRI director Rob Saunders said: “The successful progress of demonstration projects like ReFlex highlights the opportunities that are available to the UK through this kind of innovation.”