Westray Development TrustNews

Orkney Distribution Grid-Smart Demand Side Management

Westray Development Trust has been asked to forward this project to the Westray Community.

The Development Trust of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre are developing a project which, may benefit you. This is not a WDT project, but we feel that there is value in sharing this information with you. If you have any questions regarding this, you will find the REWDT contact details below.


Since March 2012 the community wind turbine has been subjected to higher levels of curtailment than we were originally informed. The Boards of both Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust (REWDT) and the trading subsidiary REWIRED Ltd have been working to find out how to mitigate the situation forced upon us by these limitations affecting the electricity grid in Orkney.

Renewable energy generators across Orkney agree that using our energy locally is one of the best solutions to this problem.  As a community-owned turbine generator, we seek a solution which benefits the community of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre, which will allow the turbine to generate, instead of being switched off.

You may have heard, or seen in The Orcadian, that the Development Trust has been successful in obtaining just under £30,000 worth of grant funding from a funder called the Local Energy Challenge Fund operated by Local Energy Scotland, using funding from the Scottish Government.  We will use this money to develop a large scale project, which will reduce the turbine’s curtailment. We also hope to help other Development Trusts with community owned turbines across the North Isles of Orkney, with their curtailments.

In REW, our turbine was turned off or “curtailed” by 25% over the last year, and instead of turning the turbine off, we want divert that lost power and use it locally.

The Project

We want to use the curtailed energy to provide cheaper and/or better heating to local homes, initially in Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre, by enhancing the heating systems in any home that agrees to, and can take part in the project.  We will then refund some of the running costs of those heaters.

This project is called Orkney Distribution Grid-Smart Demand Side Management Commercial Scale Deployment Trial.  By careful and continuous monitoring of the electricity grid measuring points, we aim to anticipate when our turbine is about to be curtailed, and we will automatically switch on a local electrical demand (space and domestic hot water heaters in participating homes).  If this is done intelligently (smartly), it will allow the turbine to come back on or keep generating rather than be switched off, increasing the revenue that the turbine is generating, and providing more funds for our community fund.

The technology to do this is really just a more sophisticated version of the off-peak and Total Heating Total Control technology that SSE already use to reduce peak demand on their user network, however we are trialling control of the proposed domestic devices to coordinate with the times of local grid capacity currently switching off our turbines. We are using established and tested technologies and have also done technical trials to the satisfaction of the grid operator etc. However, we now need to do this on a large enough scale to prove that it can have the required impact on increasing turbine income and hence show that it can add up economically to continue independently and be self sustaining, after completion of the trial.

Other than assisting the wider community you may, quite rightly, ask why should you take part in this trial?  There will be some inconvenience in the assessment of your property and installation of this additional equipment. However, if you are willing to take part in the project, we expect that you will not have any costs as a result, and we can both improve your heating systems and reduce your bills as a result; mainly by reducing your existing fuel costs and rebating the cost of the new electricity used by the installed equipment.

How does it work?  Firstly it is proposed that we upgrade and supplement elements of the current heating and hot water systems in a home, at no cost to the occupant. With this equipment in place, the project will then be able to provide additional heat and hot water in these homes, both reducing the occupant’s use of other existing fuels and reimbursing you for a proportion of the electricity used in that new system.  This, in itself, will mean that your home will be heated more cheaply, because current heating systems can be turned down.

As we said, REWDT are already testing the communication and control technologies which underpin this project through the controlled charging system for the Electric Vehicle at The Manse in Rousay and at 4 domestic properties in Hoy, who already have the controlled space and water heating system adaptations installed as part of the prior testing for this project.

Due to strict spending deadlines for the Scottish Government funds available, the application form for this second, large scale, stage of the project has to be submitted by 6th February 2015, so the timescales are really tight, but the funders are happy enough if we can show what level of interest there would be from the households at this stage.  This application will be for between £1-2 Million, with the large majority of this funding being secured to obtain and install the heating equipment for your households.  The approach we are taking has been recognised widely as the best way that we can help ourselves, and other communities and individuals, solve the challenges and limitations we are experiencing with our local electricity grids. However, due to the highly variable patterns of demand and generation on the network, all the work so far can only truly be demonstrated with a real commercial scale trial of this nature. With your support to secure the funding for, and to conduct this project, we aim to practically prevent future curtailment at the turbine so that we can help finance other projects in the community, whilst at the same time be able to help people improve their ability to reduce the cost of heating their homes as part of the wider aims of the Trust.

Project Partners

There have been a number of partners working on different aspects of this project to date. However, it is proposed that this second stage of the project overall will be led by REWDT, with strong support from the Innovation team of Community Energy Scotland.  Previously Community Energy Scotland have assisted with researching solutions, analysing data and appointing suitable specialist contractors with the necessary skills and experience to control electrical demands on the electricity grid, etc..  The key contractor is the specialist demand aggregator and controller.  After an open tender exercise in phase 1, Vcharge Inc of Rhode Island, USA were appointed for the technological trials and they will be a project partner for this larger phase.

Also appointed to help us with the electrical installations is a local electrical engineering company in Hoy, called Catalyst, who have hands-on experience with the issues affecting turbines in the Orkney grid environment. We are also using the services of the national Power Networks Demonstration Centre in Cumbernauld to test all the equipment and control systems prior to deployment to both our, and the grid operator’s satisfaction, prior to installation; and we are working closely with Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) in their role as statutory Distribution Network Operator.

First Installations

It soon became apparent that the testing of technologies, whilst unable to prevent curtailment of a 900kW wind turbine, could be scaled up to make a real impact, particularly for the REWIRED Ltd turbine, and others in a similar position.

The first installations for controlling demand were made for the Electric Vehicle project, for the four grant funded electric vehicles already leased by the Development Trusts in REW, Hoy and Shapinsay.  This was closely followed by installations at 4 domestic properties in Hoy where a combination of in-line flow boilers and thermal stores (hot water tanks) as well as domestic hot water installations, have been completed.

Roll Out

If we are successfully funded, this project aims to install devices, similar to those mentioned above in domestic properties in Hoy, to those households willing to take part in the project.

For this project, installations will supplement existing systems and enhance domestic hot water heating equipment, providing benefits through increased efficiency.  The installations, including the cost of equipment will be free of charge to the householder and will be determined according to what is required for that property, based on what heating system is already in place.

The installed heaters, etc, will have their own meter, which will be read regularly.  The electricity supply to the heaters/boiler etc will be paid for by the householder through their usual electricity bill.  However, some of the cost of the electricity used by the heaters etc will then be reimbursed to the householder.  It is necessary to deal with the reimbursement in this way because REWIRED Ltd will not be an electricity supplier.  As reimbursed energy can be used to enhance the heating of the home, the heating bills for those warmer homes should be less, as the current heating system will not have to work so hard.

In short, REWDT will

  • install the devices for free;
  • reimburse some of the costs of running the heaters etc installed;
  • be responsible for the maintenance of the equipment installed
  • handle the reimbursement the householder will receive.

The project will last at least until the turbine is decommissioned or, for as long as needs be.  For example, if at any stage, the turbine no longer experiences curtailment, and households no longer obtain any benefit from the heaters installed, the equipment will be gifted to the householder, or removed at the householder’s request.

Next Steps

The Local Energy Challenge Fund application process requires us to submit the application form by 6th February 2015, as previously explained.  To gauge the levels of interest, members of the community are being approached to assist in a survey which will be used to inform the application.

The project team are required to give a presentation of the application to the selection panel on 24th February 2015, and we will hear if we have been successful on 9th March 2015.

If we are successful, we will have until 31st March 2016 to spend the grant award and get this project underway by installing the heating devices in homes and start linking them to turbine curtailment.

Also, if successful, we then will approach all households in Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre, not just those included in the survey.  Expressions of interest up to this stage will need to be affirmed as these will determine the quantities of equipment procured, etc.

By then we will also be able to confirm what the level of reimbursement will be, based on how many households are interested in taking part, and therefore what we can install in each household.  Properties may also need a property survey to determine the type of installation required.

For those who indicate an interest in this project for their homes, updates will be issued regarding progress.  There will also be summarised updates published in the Rousay Review and on the REWDT website.

Further Information

For further information, please contact the Development Trust office on 01856 821229, or email info@rewdt.org

EP1_D Flow Boiler and Domestic hot water cylinder
HH1_B Pressurized domestic hot water and open vented flow boiler