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BLOG: FULLY CHARGED – Orkney setting the scene for the future of renewables

Fully Charged is a YouTube channel focusing on electric vehicles and renewable energy, hosted by writer, broadcaster and actor Robert Llewellyn (also known for his roles in Red Dwarf, Scrapheap Challenge and Carpool).

The Fully Charged team visited Orkney earlier this year, to see for themselves how the islands are setting the scene for the future of renewable energy. They produced a series of three videos to highlight Orkney’s role in renewables, these episodes featured: 1. Surf ‘n’ Turf – developing hydrogen from tidal and wind energy 2. Building the Future of affordable housing on Orkney 3. EMEC Tidal Power testing.

The Orkney series has made an impressive impact online, achieving 225,000 views on YouTube, as well as additional reach via social media channels. To find out more and to view the videos, read on.

Episode 1: Surf ‘n’ Turf – developing hydrogen from tidal and wind energy

Neil Kermode, Managing Director at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) takes Robert to the island of Eday. Not only is Eday the location of EMEC’s tidal energy test site at the Fall of Warness, it is also the centre of innovation in green hydrogen. Neil explains about Orkney’s abundance of renewably produced electricity – so much so, that the current grid is now very constrained. To try and circumvent the capacity issue EMEC is turning to the production of green hydrogen through electrolysis. EMEC is using an electrolyser to take excess power from tidal and wind generators (hence Surf ‘n’ Turf) to produce hydrogen. A fuel cell then converts the hydrogen back to electricity, which is being used to power Kirkwall’s harbour buildings as well as providing auxiliary power for the islands internal ferries while docked.

The Surf ‘n’ Turf project is without doubt pioneering and will bring Orkney and the wider renewables sector a step closer to solving one our energy system’s greatest challenges: learning how to store electricity when it’s not immediately required or unable to reach demand.

 

Episode 2: Building the Future of affordable housing on Orkney

Robert meets local businessman Stephen Kemp, Managing Director of Orkney Builders, who is driving progress in housing that is both renewably powered and affordable. Stephen explains how his company have invested in 30 new energy efficient homes in Kirkwall, using a combination of solar panels and Tesla batteries. The overall of aim is to provide low operating and infrastructure costs, resulting in affordable, sustainable and energy efficient homes.

Mark Hamilton, C.E.O. & Co-founder of Solo Energy, explains that the Tesla batteries store output from the solar panels and can also be charged from the grid. He believes that with further development in this ground-breaking technology it is entirely possible that by 2027 all homes could use this new battery system.

This virtual power plant model is not only taking excess energy and storing it for Solo Energy consumers but it’s also putting it back into the grid to help clean it up. Having this tangible model now demonstrates how consumers can move from oil or gas to electricity, allowing renewable generation to kick-in. By Orkney Builders investing in this new technology it is allowing this model to prove its worth by creating a physical footprint of the system.  Ultimately this new technology helps the grid, aids renewables regeneration and enables consumers to take advantage of this cost efficient system.

 

Episode 3: EMEC Tidal Power testing

The third episode focuses on EMEC’s tidal energy test site at the Fall of Warness, located off the island of Eday. Lisa MacKenzie, Commercial and Marketing Manager at EMEC, explains that the Fall of Warness has seven subsea cables which are connect to the national grid and with the tide flowing up to 4 metres per second, this location certainly provides ideal conditions to test devices.

Lisa provides an insight into tidal energy and its place in renewables. She explains how tidal energy is further ahead in its development in comparison to wave energy, however highlights that across the world wave energy has more resource: importantly she believes there is room for both technologies. Lisa further explains EMEC is at the heart of the industry and is aiding the development of extremely pioneering machines, including the iconic Open Hydro tidal turbine, which has been deployed at the Fall of Warness for the past ten years.

Robert also met up with Danny Bain, HSE Manager at Scotrenewables. Established in 2002, Scotrenewables have been working hard at developing and testing devices. Danny takes Robert to the Fall of Warness test site where he is able to show him first-hand their floating tidal device, the SR2000, which is the world’s largest and most powerful floating tidal turbine. Danny also highlights the important role that EMEC has made to the local supply chain here in Orkney and shares his views on EMEC’s future.

It is without a doubt that the Fully Charged team were impressed with the hive of activity and ground-breaking and innovative work that is taking place here in Orkney. We look forward to welcoming Robert back to Orkney in the future – hopefully it will involve a trip on a hydrogen powered ferry around our archipelago!

Thanks to Orkney Renewable Energy Forum and Jonathan Porterfield for organising for the Fully Charged team to visit Orkney, and to Highlands and Island Enterprise for their support in facilitating the Fully Charged visit to the Fall of Warness test site.

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