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.
Led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), the ReFLEX Orkney project brings together an expert consortium of Orkney-based partners – Solo Energy, Aquatera, Community Energy Scotland, Heriot-Watt University and Orkney Islands Council – as well as multi-national energy company Doosan Babcock.
Electricity, transport and heat powered by local renewable energy generation, will be coupled with flexible energy demand balancing the intermittency of renewables.
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.