ReFLEX Orkney, the smart energy project aiming to integrate electricity, transport and heat networks in the Orkney Archipelago near Scotland has been approved by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and can now move from the feasibility stage to demonstration.

The scheme aims to help Orkney reach its full potential for renewable energy production by harnessing excess energy and reducing the reliance on power imported from the UK mainland. The project will create an integrated energy system, digitally linking electricity supply and demand between renewable energy generators, energy storage facilities, and electricity consumers.

The £28.5m project is funded by UKRI and led by the European Marine Energy Centre, along with consortium partners Aquatera, Solo Energy, Community Energy Scotland, Heriot-Watt University, Orkney Islands Council, and Doosan Babcock.

On behalf of the ReFLEX Orkney project partners, 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project, developing the service offerings, and working out how best to deliver a progressive energy system within an out-of-date regulatory framework.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 EVs and other decarbonised energy technologies,” he added.

“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.”

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Operators are currently working to establish a new local energy company in Orkney that will advise local consumers and businesses on their energy needs.

The Orkney energy tariff will be tailored to the needs of the new ReFLEX integrated energy system.

UK Research and Innovation challenge director Rob Saunders said: “Clean energy, delivered across smart and efficient local networks will play a major role in achieving the net zero goals of 2050. The successful progress of demonstration projects like ReFLEX highlight the opportunities that are available to the UK through this kind of innovation. We look forward to working with ReFLEX on the next stage of their project.”