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ReFLEX Orkney summer update

August marks nine months since ReFLEX Orkney Ltd launched in December 2020, setting out a range of services to help decarbonise transport, electricity and heating in Orkney. 

ReFLEX is an innovation project that aims to demonstrate viable ways to help further decarbonise Orkney. We have faced, and continue to face many challenges, but as we overcome them, we get closer to meeting the aims of the project, whilst continuing to learn many lessons on what does and doesn’t work.

The practical realities of launching a carbon reduction project in the midst of Brexit, a global pandemic and a fast-changing energy environment has been challenging. Our dedicated partners and customer engagement team have been working hard to revolutionise Orkney’s energy system and deliver affordable renewable energy solutions to Orkney residents, and we’re beginning to see the fruits of this effort. 

In the last nine months we have:


Creating the energy system of the future was never going to be easy; it requires advanced technological development, new financial models and behavioural change. 

We’re still investigating options for domestic batteries, solar PV, and heating solutions, and as more technologies are installed enabling more renewable power to be used locally, we’ll be working on the development of the integrated energy system platform, FlexiGrid.

We are immensely grateful to the Orkney community for their continued support. Here’s a look at learning from our first nine months, some key changes and updates to the project and what to expect from ReFLEX Orkney in the near future. The car club update includes a great limited discount sign up offer.

Use the links above to jump straight to specific updates.

VISIT REFLEX ORKNEY

88 new EVs in Orkney and counting

  • Leasing: Since launch, ReFLEX Orkney Ltd has been offering leasing of new electric vehicles with special rates exclusive to Orkney residents and an offer that includes replacement vehicles, enhanced warranty, and Orkney-based customer service and test driving. You could currently receive a grant of about £3000 off the market rate for a new car lease. But be aware the amount of grant we can give is reducing over time. 
  • Buy-to-order used sales: In April, we also began offering used buy-to-order car sales, since well-known Orkney based EV company Eco-cars.net became a part of ReFLEX.  
There has been strong interest in electric vehicles since the day we launched, and in the first weeks of December the team were run off their feet with test drives. 

Throughout winter, the effects of Brexit and the COVID-19 lockdown on the entire car industry meant a delay on being able to provide quotes to customers and order EVs. By March we were fully up and running, with the first leased vehicles arriving in Orkney at the start of May.

Interest has grown steadily since, with 69 electric vehicles leased to people and businesses now in Orkney and another 36 on order, totalling 105 ordered so far. It has been especially exciting seeing how word of mouth has grown as customers show their new EVs to family and friends. 
 

In addition to the 69 leased vehicles, the project has also brought 19 other electric vehicles to Orkney for use as demo, car club and community vehicles - bringing the total to 88 and counting as new leased Evs arrive every week. This is making a big impact on electric vehicle numbers in Orkney already. Since 2013 the average number of EVs in Orkney has increased by about 40 vehicles a year. ReFLEX Orkney has doubled the amount on the ground in less than six months.
  • EV delivery timing. You may have seen news coverage that the global shortage of microchips caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is now affecting car manufacturing, leading to price increases in new and used car sales and for leasing. It also means that new car orders are taking longer than normal. We are starting to see this affect the estimated delivery time of some makes and models of electric vehicles ordered through ReFLEX. Our EV leasing supplier, DriveElectric, are keeping us well informed so we can advise customers on which models may be quicker or take longer to order.
LEASE A NEW OR BUY A USED EV

ReFLEX Orkney tariff: Shell Energy complete active role in project

As of today, 27 August, the ReFLEX Orkney Tariff will no longer be open to new customers. Shell Energy, who has been the supplier for the ReFLEX Orkney 100% renewable electricity tariff since it launched, has decided end their active role in the project and stop taking any new customers for this tariff. However, they will continue to support those who have already signed up to the tariff by 27 August.

If you are already signed up to the ReFLEX Orkney tariff: Existing customers will not be affected by this change. 

  • Your one-year fixed rate tariff will continue as per your energy supply contract with Shell Energy.
  • Smart meter installation will still go ahead and is expected to begin next week. If you are an existing customer, you should be contacted soon about your smart meter installation. 
  • If you decide to leave Shell Energy before the end of your fixed-rate contract, they have agreed to waive the £30 ‘early exit’ fee for ReFLEX Orkney customers. 

Impact on heating, battery and solar. As well as supplying the domestic fixed-rate tariff, Shell Energy has also been involved in our work to develop customer offerings for domestic smart heating for people with storage heaters, and for domestic batteries & solar PV bundled with a tech tariff.  

These areas are some of the most innovative aspects of the ReFLEX project and therefore also the most challenging to develop. The delays in delivering our advanced approach to grid connections, along with rapidly increasing wholesale energy cost and changes in business priorities, mean Shell Energy decided to conclude their involvement in the project. 

Whilst we look at alternative options, we have learned a great deal from the collaboration with Shell Energy that will inform what we do next. For example, the current rate of wholesale energy price increases may make it difficult for suppliers to make available a low flat-rate price tariff to sit alongside a smart heating offer from ReFLEX Orkney.   

Shell Energy’s departure means we can explore alternative options for how we can deliver heating, battery and solar services. We are currently seeking expressions of interest from other energy suppliers and will update members as this work progresses.  

  • If you were part of our first grid connection application to SSEN you should have received an email today detailing the impact of this on our efforts to deliver batteries and solar solutions. 
QUESTIONS? CONTACT OUR TEAM

EV chargers deployed across Orkney

Dozens of Orkney EV customers are already enjoying the benefits of smart charging at home thanks to ReFLEX, and data collected via our FlexiGrid from deployed chargers is providing valuable insights into EV use and ‘flexible’ demand. The project aims to remotely control the charging regime of electric vehicles in order to reduce local constraints on the electricity grid and increase the use of local renewable generation. 

Around 80% of EV charging is done at home, and with grants available to help with upfront costs we have found that many of our EV customers are also interested in having a charger installed.  

As well as effecting car manufacturing the global shortage of microchips is impacting charger supply too. This has led myenergi  – the manufacturer of the smart charger we use - to redesign its equipment around a different chip. This is causing delays in us being able to install chargers in Orkney. You can read myenergi's open letter about the delays here.

However, 30 smart EV chargers have so far been deployed in domestic settings, and we are now progressing with more installations.
 

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOME CHARGING

Orkney's carbon footprint lower than UK average

To date 180 people have used ReFLEX’s Orkney specific carbon calculator, tailored to include factors relevant for those living on an island, such as ferry travel. 

Early results from the ReFLEX Orkney carbon calculator show an average carbon footprint of 2.8 tonnes CO2 per year per person, a very low figure compared to the UK average of 9.84 tonnes CO2 per person per year.  But the last year was not your average one.

We are now looking at how to incorporate into our analysis whether participants based their answers on their pre-COVID lifestyles or from during the pandemic. 

Even as travel begins to increase again as the UK emerges from lockdown, working from home and other altered aspects of daily like are likely to remain for some time to come.
 

CALCULATE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

Co Wheels offers £50 start-up credit vouchers for 10 new members

After a gradual start in winter due to lockdown, the car club is now up and running well with more than 130 members in Orkney using the fully-electric hire car fleet in Stromness, Kirkwall, Dounby and Holm.
 
To further boost membership, ReFLEX and Co-wheels are currently giving out 10 promotional vouchers on a first-come, first-serve basis to Orkney residents who sign up for the car club. 
 
Each voucher includes: 
  • £50 start-up credit 
  • No monthly membership fee 
  • Hire rates from £5.50/hour or £38.50/day with an additional Orkney-only 25% discount. 
To secure your voucher, simply email our team at the link below and tell them you heard about the discount in the ReFLEX Orkney newsletter. We'll provide an exclusive registration discount code to the first 10 customers who contact the team.
 
SECURE A £50 START-UP CREDIT VOUCHER

ReFLEX Orkney stories

In our newest case study Charles Groundwater demonstrates how Orkney residents benefit from pairing 100% renewable energy services. Not only has the Stromness local recently leased a new electric vehicle through ReFLEX Orkney and DriveElectric, but he has also had a myenergi smart charger installed for optimal home charging. 

Read about his experience below, and view more case studies in the images above. 
 
Case study: electric vehicle lease and charger

Community groups decarbonise transport through ReFLEX

Community groups in Hoy, Eday and Shapinsay have been working with Community Energy Scotland via ReFLEX Orkney to decarbonise their community transport services.

Shapinsay Development Trust are the most recent community group to benefit from the project’s support, with a wheelchair-accessible Nissan eNV200 electric people-carrier joining the fleet of community owned and operated vehicles.   

Convenient and flexible electric vehicle charging has also been enabled by the project, with chargers installed this summer at the YM Community Centre in Hoy, the Boathouse in Shapinsay and at the Eday pier. 

All chargers will eventually be connected to ReFLEX Orkney’s FlexiGrid, delivering grid balancing services while supporting the community’s access to green and sustainable transport options.  
 

CONTACT CES TO LEARN MORE

FlexiGrid optimises as project develops

FlexiGrid, the ReFLEX integrated energy system control platform developed by project partner SMS, is a cloud-based software which aggregates decentralised energy assets, like batteries and EV chargers, to create the smart energy system of the future.

This aims to reduce local curtailment of renewable generation by increasing demand on the grid with smart control of assets in users’ homes. The platform has proven its capabilities to operate in this way, and as more cars, chargers and batteries are integrated we will continue to develop and optimise the platform.    

LEARN MORE ABOUT FLEXIGRID

Seeking businesses interested in EVs and chargers

We’re fortunate to have had a lot of business interest in solar and batteries so far, and we’re now actively looking for businesses who are considering electric vehicles and smart EV charging. 

  • ReFLEX has engaged with many businesses and conducted feasibility studies for a funded PV and battery solution for their businesses. Each solution design is bespoke to the businesses' needs and constraints, for example roof space for Solar PV. We are now working to firm up costs to be able to issue formal offers to the qualifying businesses. As part of these feasibility studies, we have engaged with SSE Networks to ensure that it would be viable, from a grid perspective, to install the proposed technology at the site. 
  • ReFLEX Orkney can offer discounted business-to-business leases through our relationship with DriveElectric, which some local businesses have taken advantage of.

We are continuing to look at other potential offers for local businesses, including EV rentals and salary sacrifice schemes.
 

LEARN MORE

The next nine months and beyond...

The Orkney energy revolution has been led, inspired and supported by the local community for more than 60 years. The ReFLEX project aims to build on this support by creating accessible, renewable energy solutions for our community.  

Once demonstrated and proven in Orkney, it is expected that the Integrated Energy System model and associated service supply framework will be replicated in other areas across the UK and internationally. 

This would mean long-term export opportunities for the ReFLEX project partners and Orkney, and would help create more flexible and renewable-based energy systems across the globe. 
 

READ MORE ABOUT ORKNEY AND REFLEX

Become a member or offer feedback

Our customer support team are available to help you reduce your carbon footprint and rethink how you use energy in your home or business.
Get in touch to sign up for membership.


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The project is funded by UKRI through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
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