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Research impact

The Orkney Islands have been at the centre of renewable energy innovation for more than 60 years.
Since 2013, Orkney has generated over 100% of its electricity demand from renewable power sources. A world leader in both the quantity and diversity of renewable energy infrastructure it has deployed in the past 20 years, it offers an ideal environment to create an integrated and truly smart, future energy system.
Heriot-Watt University Orkney is located in a stunning setting with extensive natural resources, creating a distinctive research and learning environment. For 25 years the University’s International Centre for Island Technology has engaged with the local community and industry to develop innovative solutions to global challenges.
Whilst there is no shortage of renewable generation assets in Orkney, demand-side assets are only now developing through pioneering pilot and local community scale activities. One of these schemes is the £28.5 million Responsive Flexibility (ReFLEX) Orkney scheme, the UK’s largest whole energy system project. Its aim is to create a ‘smart energy island’, demonstrating the energy system of the future.
This is being achieved through an integrated energy system which manages the renewable generation of the region, digitally linking distributed and intermittent power to flexible demand and storage.
Information from the people, homes and businesses benefitting from the system – and particularly data that records human interaction with the new technologies – provides the basis for further research and continued focus on decarbonisation.

ReFLEX will deliver an extensive new pool of flexible demand technologies at regional scale, with the potential to deliver a global impact for our low carbon objectives.