A “ground-breaking” new local energy company has been launched in Orkney as part of plans to support the “green industrial revolution”.
The creation of ReFLEX Orkney Ltd, which will supply a range of low-carbon transport and power services exclusive to local residents and businesses, has been heralded as a “major milestone” in efforts to decarbonise the island’s energy system.
It’s hoped the initiative will pave the way for other regions in the UK to adopt a localised integrated energy systems (IES) approach.
The firm is part of the wider £28.5 million ReFLEX Orkney project, which is part funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, matched by the private sector.
Orkney already generates over 100% of its electricity demand annually from renewable sources.
ReFLEX Orkney aims to help the community take advantage of its green energy potential and put the island at the forefront of carbon reduction methods.
At the heart of the project is the demonstration of technologies like batteries, electric vehicles, smart chargers and smart meters, which are being made available via affordable lease and other financing, helping customers to avoid large upfront costs.
ReFLEX has also introduced 100% renewable electricity tariffs for residents, which will help link energy technologies with FlexiGrid, the island’s IES.
In order to support rapid transition to net zero, ReFLEX is working with Shell Energy Retail and Drive Electric to support the roll out of technologies.
The project is also creating larger-scale and community-focused initiatives, such as electric buses, a local electric car club in partnership with Co-wheels, and the integration of green hydrogen for storage and transport.
Once demonstrated and proven in Orkney, it is expected that the IES model and associated integrated energy service supply framework will be replicated in other areas across the UK and internationally.
Gareth Davies, managing director of ReFLEX Orkney Ltd, said: “The launch of ReFLEX Orkney Ltd and the range of products and services is a major milestone for the ReFLEX Orkney project.
“We are pioneering an integrated, affordable, low-carbon energy system in Orkney which can then be used as a blueprint for other locations.
“A key aim for ReFLEX is to encourage early adoption of these technologies, as well as inspiring community participation in the drive to decarbonise Orkney.
“By becoming a member of ReFLEX, the community can help us shape it and demonstrate how communities can create smart local energy systems.
“In return we will help the community access affordable low carbon technologies and services, and better understand and manage their energy use.
“This is very timely as the UK government has just announced an end of the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2030 as part of an ambitious plan for green industrial revolution, and yet again Orkney is ahead of the curve, ready to demonstrate to the nation how it can be done.”
Rob Saunders, challenge director at UKRI, said: “ReFLEX Orkney is a ground-breaking project in the energy revolution challenge. The approach the ReFLEX team is taking combines abundant renewable energy resources with thorough engagement with local communities and organisations alongside the development of a joined-up, affordable, low-carbon energy system in Orkney.
“Clean energy delivered across smart and efficient local networks will play a major role in achieving the net zero goals of 2050. Today’s launch of a new range of low-carbon transport and power services to further decarbonise the Orkney energy system highlights the opportunities that are available to the UK through this kind of innovation.”