Western Isles and Skye to help develop the flexible electricity network of the future

The Western Isles and Skye are some of the first places in Great Britain being used to test what will be the biggest change in how electricity is distributed in over 100 years.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) plans to use local generators on the islands as key parts of the modern electricity grid of the future.

At the moment, if there’s a fault or planned maintenance work on the network, SSEN sometimes needs to use diesel generation to keep the lights on. This innovative new project will see medium to large sized wind and hydro stations opting in to being paid to provide power instead.

This innovative, greener approach means it can be more cost effective to pay local generators to export during certain times and conditions or for local businesses to reduce their consumption, helping keep costs down for customers.

In the future, the GB electricity network will need to be much more flexible as the demand for electricity grows across the country as it decarbonises to tackle climate change.  Electric cars and buses will replace polluting petrol and diesel, more heating systems will switch from gas to electric and the increase in technology will see more people using electricity in ways they didn’t before. 

This initiative in the Western Isles and Skye will be a significant step in developing the flexible electricity network of the future. 

SSEN is now working with Piclo, the independent marketplace for buying and selling smart grid flexibility services, to encourage businesses in the Western Isles and Skye to take part.

Stewart Reid, Head of Future Networks at SSEN, said:

“This first procurement exercise in the Western Isles and Skye is a significant step in delivering proactive flexibility and is one of the biggest to date in Scotland.  It will play a vitally important role in supporting the UK deliver its low-carbon ambitions.

“We are committed to considering flexible options where it is more cost effective than traditional network reinforcement, unlocking new opportunities for local flexibility providers and helping keep costs down for customers.

“We hope a range of local businesses, energy storage, and embedded generation take part in this exciting project.”

SSEN is committed to testing the market and comparing what flexibility services and their cost with building new energy infrastructure, in order to deliver the best value for billpayers. Interested businesses can register at picloflex.com.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.7 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

Read more articles by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks