Innovative market to boost local renewable energy on Orkney Islands launches

Project TraDER will create a market that allows renewables to pay for increased grid capacity when favourable conditions mean they are producing excess energy. The Project will inform how the UK can transition to a net zero energy system in a cost-effective manner for customers.

Currently the UK’s energy system does not respond to the changing weather, such as when favourable conditions are allowing renewables to produce more energy than the grid needs. Project TraDER seeks to address this issue by creating a market for renewable energy producers to pay for increased capacity on the network when assets are producing excess energy, removing a significant barrier to maximising renewable output.

Project TraDER brings together the consortium of Electron, Community Energy Scotland, CGI, EDF, Elexon, Energy Systems Catapult, Kaluza and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks to develop a multi-product flexibility exchange as part of the BEIS-funded FleX competition.

The problem of an unresponsive energy system is felt acutely on the Orkney islands, where renewable capacity is already providing more energy than the islands’ annual electricity demand. At times of high wind, turbines may be curtailed due to insufficient capacity on the network, meaning local and community-owned renewable generators lose revenue and zero carbon power is wasted.

The Orkney islands were therefore selected by the TraDER consortium as the ideal testing bed to deliver a flexibility exchange that allows renewables to pay flexible assets (such as batteries) for its network capacity.

The first phase of the project is exploring demand turn-up to match local generation, when grid congestion would otherwise lead to curtailment. In the second phase SSEN will support facilitation of new markets and exploration for further value add to customers. This will be progressed with interested energy participants following engagement sessions held through 2020. 

Andrew Roper, ED2 Director for SSEN said:

“TraDER is an exciting and important project, on the journey to delivering a smarter electricity system that accommodates and maximises the benefits of low-carbon technologies. Orkney provides the perfect location: with circa 10% of Orkney’s population already producing their own power, we have a well-informed, engaged community that TraDER is seeking to support.”

SSEN has committed to transition from being a distribution network operator (DNO) to becoming a distribution system operator (DSO) and innovation projects such as TraDER are fundamental in building the knowledge that will allow that transition to be undertaken in a timely, transparent and fair manner.

Andrew continues: “Orkney is well ahead of the curve in the transition to net zero. Finding the ways to iron out inefficiencies in a small, islanded network means we can scale up our learnings and roll them out to other regions.”

For more information about TraDER which launched in February 2020, click here.

To learn more about SSEN’s transition from DNO to DSO, read our latest report here.