Orkney Smart Energy Grid Project Underway
The Government has committed £14.3 million of funding towards a pioneering ‘smart energy grid’ project in Orkney. The project is an attempt to create a green electricity grid by combining renewable energy with battery storage technology.
The scheme intends to balance the local power network by matching supply with demand using domestic batteries and electric vehicles. Costing £28.5 million in total, the ‘smart energy group of islands’ could eventually help render fossil fuels obsolete.
Part of the project will involve offering small energy storage batteries to homes with existing wind and solar technology. Larger energy storage batteries will also be installed at business premises and public buildings.
Orkney the Ideal Location for Smart Energy Project
Orkney has been selected for the scheme due to the high number of home that generate their own electricity. About 10% of homes in Orkney generate their own power, compared to the UK national average of 2.8%. The area also produces 2kW of renewable energy capacity per property, which is over 900% of the national average. The archipelago off the north eastern coast of Scotland also boasts nearly four times as many electric vehicles per home.
The Government’s Energy Minister for the UK, Claire Perry, said of the project,
“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’.”
Gareth Davies from Orkney-based renewable energy consultants Aquatera spoke to BBC Scotland about the importance of locally sourced energy. He said,
“A key part of this [smart energy] project is to start building in local resilience and capacity within our local energy system. To date we’ve relied on UK systems to provide that balancing service. This project is all about delivering that service locally.”
Electric Vehicles Are ‘Important Part’ of Project
More and more drivers are switching their traditional fuel-powered cars for electric vehicles (EVs). With such vehicles needing charging, the increase of their use is expected to increase demand on the energy grid. However, cars are usually only used for short periods of time, thus their excess energy could be used elsewhere. This would be especially useful during periods of high demand and would help balance the supply and demand of electricity.
Orkney Islands Council member Adele Lidderdale said of the Orkney smart energy project,
“Electric vehicles are a really important part of this project. At the moment, 2% of vehicles in Orkney are EVs and we’re looking to take that up to 10%. In Scotland they’ve made commitments to reduce fossil fuel vehicles and by 2032 we really need to be seeing a lot more electric vehicles on the road.”
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