Heat Smart Orkney launches project to divert unused renewable energy into affordable heat

 heat-smart-orkneyA new project to mitigate curtailment in commercial scale wind turbines, which aims to divert unused renewable energy into affordable heat, has been launched by Heat Smart Orkney Ltd.

HSO is a subsidiary of Rousay Egilsay & Wyre Development Trust, and the company that will co-ordinate the community engagement of the Heat Smart Orkney project, whilst project delivery partners Community Energy Scotland will support the delivery of the project as well as engaging with technical and installation contractors.

The Heat Smart Orkney project had been funded by the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund, administered by Local Energy Scotland, which awarded just under £1.3 million for the project in March this year.

Michelle Koster, Project Manager, said: “It seemed untenable that renewable energy generators are being curtailed due to the constraints on the distribution of electricity around the Orkney grid, whilst fuel poverty levels are at 63% for all households in Orkney”  

“We know there is excellent work going on with organisations in Orkney addressing insulation and energy efficiency across our homes, but this is of limited reach and even a super-insulated property still needs an affordable energy source to provide heat in the home.”

The Heat Smart Orkney project will provide a demand-side management solution by installing secondary heating systems into local homes willing to participate.  These secondary heating systems will be charged when the participating turbine suffers ‘marginal’ curtailment.

Mark Hull, Community Energy Scotland’s Head of Innovation, commented; “The technology behind this project is complex.

“But key to this scheme is that the system identifies when the target turbine is the marginal generator, and household demand is introduced intelligently to only benefit that turbine without impacting the participating or other turbines’ contractual position in the SSE Active Network Management Scheme stacking order.”

In its simplest form, when the participating turbine receives a curtailment signal as the marginal generator, the Heat Smart Orkney system will switch on secondary heating systems installed in local homes, charging storage heaters, or storing energy in wet radiator systems or thermal stores by heating the water. 

By doing this, the installations provide a new intelligent demand on the grid that utilises the linked turbine’s generation prior to it reaching grid pinch-points at times when the turbine would otherwise be curtailed to protect the grid.

Due to this smart linking of demand and generation, the participating generator will continue to export energy, and the increased income this generates will be used to rebate the additional cost of running the heating systems to provide affordable local warmth.

Koster added: “This is a community scale trial and we are aiming to connect up to 100 homes in the first year.

“Properties on the islands of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre will be approached, but the catchment area can be any homes within a certain zone of the distribution grid, including Westray, Eday and potentially some areas in the North East of West Mainland. 

“To prove the efficacy of the project, we are focusing on just enough houses to work with our own community turbine.  However, once demonstrated, this can be expanded to include further houses and turbines in the same grid area. 

“Developing further, we can then link generation with demand in other zones in Orkney, and potentially elsewhere where the local electricity grid will need managing due to weaknesses and restrictions.”

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