Why Orkney is leading the way in the energy revolution…


Earlier this week BEIS announced the successful projects to take part in a series of demonstrators aiming to jumpstart the energy revolution and create systems to deliver cheaper and more resilient energy.  We are excited to be a part of the Orkney project, led by EMEC, which is designed to digitally link distributed and intermittent renewable generation to flexible demand.  

This is all sounds great, but what does it actually mean – and why is Orkney playing this vital role as a testbed for the energy systems of the future?

Orkney has unique energy challenges – led primarily by the overabundance of wind generation gifted by its unique position in the North Sea.  As a series of islands, it’s also constrained in the amount of energy it can take – and give back – by the capacity of the cable that connects it to the rest of the mainland.  This means that often, the wind turbines have to be halted, as generation exceeds demand from the people of Orkney, and there is too much power to feed back over the connector.

Here at Solo we’ve been working on Orkney for a number of years, trying to come up with a solution that avoids wasting the renewable energy that is generated, storing it up for times when the wind doesn’t blow.  We’ve taken part in a number of trials that have connected renewable generation, either wind or solar, to in-home battery storage units, all controlled and managed via our FlexiGrid software platform.

However, what is so exciting about the ReFlex programme is the way it connects multiple partners – manufacturers, home builders, universities and housing associations – to turn Orkney into an ‘energy island’.  This brings together energy generation, transport (with over 600 new EVs and electric public transport solutions), hydrogen fuel cells and in-home battery storage to create a model that could be replicated across the world.  All whilst lowering domestic energy bills, transport costs and reducing carbon.  

Our ambition has always been to create a 100% renewable energy system, and this brings us significantly close to that ambitious target.


Joanne Smalley