Since March 2012 the community-owned wind turbine on Kingarly Hill 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, as well as other communities in Orkney, which will allow our turbines to generate, instead of being switched off.
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.
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.
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 income 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.
During September we advertised for a number of households to trial the roll out of equipment to allow us to test the communications 'challenges' we experience around the islands. A number of households volunteered and were assessed by a qualified energy assessor and approved electrician who has short-listed those we are able to work with.
Installations will include immersion heaters in hot water tanks, storage heaters (in non-THTC properties) and flow boilers.
We have also started on the draft contracts we will need to have in place, both during the trial and (if successful in securing grant funding) beyond.