The island of Orkney, off the northern coast of Scotland, has launched a pioneering project to create a green electricity grid mixing renewable energy with battery technology.
The “smart energy” scheme will use domestic batteries and electric vehicles to balance the local power network by meeting supply with demand. It is being backed by £14.3 million of UK government funding.
Orkney has been chosen because of its high take-up of “micro-generation”: 10% of homes create their own electricity – compared with a UK average of 2.8%. It has 2kW of renewable energy capacity per property which is 900% more than the UK average. The county also has almost four times more electric vehicles per home.
UK Energy 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’,” the minister added.
The £28.5 million project will create a “smart energy group of islands” where software balances local supply, storage and demand.
Gareth Davies from Stromness-based renewable energy consultants Aquatera, told BBC Scotland: “A key part of this 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.”