EXCLUSIVE: Solo Energy to set up new renewable energy storage network on Orkney

Mark Hamilton
Mark Hamilton

EXCLUSIVE: Scottish Energy News

Orkney is a net exporter of electricity-  but renewable generation is at times limited by the export capacity of the subsea cables to the Scottish mainland and between the islands.

As a response to these limitations, Orkney has innovated. In 2009, the Islands became home to the UK’s first ‘smart grid,’ which uses a new Active Network Management approach to make better use of the existing network by instructing generators to control their output.

Now, with help from Heriot-Watt University, Solo Energy – a new 100%-renewable energy supplier business operating in Orkney – is pushing ahead with the installation of large numbers of actively managed distributed energy storage assets in homes and businesses.

Orkney has the highest proportion of households generating their own electricity of anywhere in the UK. Orcadians generate more than 100% of their total electricity needs from renewable sources and have pioneered the utilisation of renewables whether that be wind, wave and tidal and now they are looking at energy storage.

Solo Energy – whose directors include mother-and-son Maureen and Simon Di Pietro from Ireland’s DP Energy – plans to create a demand-side energy storage network on Orkney, utilising battery storage technology in order to shift customers’ energy supply from periods of peak demand and peak wholesale energy price, to periods of peak renewable generation and low demand / low wholesale energy price.

Solo Energy has teamed up with Colin Bullen – who is based at Heriot Watt University’s International Centre for Island Technology – and with local housing developer Orkney Builders.

Mark Hamilton, Chief Executive, Solo Energy, said: “The key to fully eliminating fossil fuels from the grid infrastructure is energy storage.

“The work with Heriot-Watt on this project will give us critical technical input to the design of the distributed storage network as well as providing firm evidence of the commercial and technical case for distributed energy storage in terms of cost savings for residents and broader benefits to local renewable generators and the electricity grid.”

Previously, Hamilton led the technical and commercial development of the world’s largest tidal turbine at Scotrenewables Tidal Power, initially as chief technical officer and later as managing director.

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