Exciting news for sustainable transport enthusiasts! Orkney’s Co Wheels Car Club has just received two brand-new electric vehicles (EVs). The new additions to the car club are two MG4s, a multiple award-winning electric car with a range of over 200 miles.
Community Energy Scotland (CES), in partnership with Co Wheels, is responsible for the yearly operation of one of the two MG4s and the other is the responsibility of Orkney-based EMEC (European Marine energy Centre).
The new car at the Kirkwall Pier replaces the previous vehicle supplied by the recently completed ReFLEX Orkney project. The project EV proved to be a popular choice for use by residents of the Northern Orkney Islands to access a car on Orkney Mainland without having to bring their own vehicles on the ferry. We are delighted to be able to continue the service and support residents with a brand new EV.
The Orkney Co Wheels Car Club includes three electric vehicles:
An MG4 at the Kirkwall pier
An MGZS at Sommerville Square, in Kirkwall
An MG4 at the ORIC building, in Stromness
The Car Club, operated by Co Wheels, a UK national social enterprise, is a membership-based service that allows members to rent vehicles for short periods of time, by the hour. Members reserve the MG4 through an easy online booking system, and then pick it up from a designated location. It’s a helpful and convenient option for people who do not want the expense and hassle of owning a personal vehicle, or for those who need access to a car for occasional use.
The Orkney Co Wheels Car Club is a positive step towards reducing our reliance on personal vehicles, encouraging the use of sustainable transport options. For the next year, CES is aiming to raise awareness of the Car Club so that it can benefit as many Orkney residents as possible and to establish a firm foundation for its future.
Smarter Choices Smarter Places awarded funding to CES to cover 50% of CES’ investment into the Car Club operation and communications. We are grateful for the opportunity this has given us to help make this local service possible.
Overall, the addition of new electric vehicles to the Orkney Co Wheels Car Club is a forward looking development for sustainable transport in the region. With convenient access to low-emission vehicles, residents and visitors alike can now travel around Orkney without relying on personal cars.
Heat pumps can offer a viable alternative for many homes to transition from fossil fuel-based heating systems to a much cleaner system.
There is currently little data on how heat pumps operate over time after their installation, and what factors impact their performance. Community Energy Scotland (CES) are looking to target this head on with the Heat Pump Plus (HPPlus) project.
What will the project do?
HPPlus is looking to gather high quality data on the factors which dictate how effective heat pumps operate, and the impact energy efficiency measures can have. The project will collect information on the heating system in place; deploy energy monitoring equipment (to monitor the heat pump’s electricity consumption and in some cases heat output); capture participants’ heating habits as well as perception and understanding of the heat pump system. From this information, HPPlus will, where possible, propose measures to increase the performance of their heating system which could help contribute to energy savings.
Participants with installed energy monitoring equipment will have access to the real time data being collected. The equipment will then be gifted at the end of the project to allow continued monitoring by the homeowner.
The project will first focus efforts on Orkney, as a test bed before for the project’s approach, ahead of potential roll out in other regions.
Who is this project for?
Those with properties in Orkney which are occupied all year round with heat pumps, or those who are scheduled to have a heat pump installed in the next 6-months
Homeowners who would like assistance in understanding how effectively their heat pump is operating
Those who are happy to actively contribute towards the data collection and are open to energy efficiency measures
How can I take part?
If you would like to find out more, or register your interest in the project if you live in Orkney, please contact:
We’re pleased to announce that Community Energy Scotland (CES) has been jointly awarded project funding to support Orkney island community groups seeking to decarbonise their community transport and improve public electric vehicle (EV) charging.
The Scottish Government’s Rural Communities Ideas in Action Fund has enabled this CES partnership project with Transition North Ronaldsay and Sanday Enterprises. It aims to identify the opportunities for public, community-operated EV chargers on each island, and to share technical knowledge and experience of charger installation.
We aim to develop an inclusive solution that meets the individual needs of each community. The project outcomes will offer a route to propel community action on climate change and to enhance the transport services available to all those in each island community.
“This project is important for Sanday as we turn away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. Charging points will eventually be needed everywhere. Both tourists and residents will benefit, thus helping to keep the economy moving forward.”
Victor Kerridge, Sanday Enterprises CIC
Together with Transition North Ronaldsay and Sanday Enterprises, we are keen to hear from the community on Sanday and North Ronaldsay on ways to develop and decarbonise their community transport, including the EV charging options. Transition North Ronaldsay and Sandy Enterprises will be launching community-led public surveys to gather this information from all of their community members.
It doesn’t matter how great low carbon transport technology is if only a minority can access it. That is true of electric vehicles (EVs) also. To reach net zero, we don’t all have to buy an EV to replace each one of our petrol/diesel cars and vans. In fact, I think we shouldn’t. There are alternatives to buying an EV. This would directly contribute to the urgent need to reduce the number of vehicles manufactured each year while phasing out fossil fueled vehicles. In any sustainable transport system multiple ways to access travel have to be taken into consideration.
Active travel like walking and cycling, and the infrastructure to make this safe, should be maximised where possible, and public transport improved. However, sometimes a car or van is needed.
I work for Community Energy Scotland and have been working on the ReFLEX Orkney project (part funded by UKRI) which is aiming to decarbonise the local system in Orkney by building a smart local energy system. Transport is just one element of the project and I want to share with you some of the solutions we’ve been looking at to increase people’s access to low carbon cars and vans: Community Transport, Car Clubs, and leasing of EVs.
Community Energy Scotland have supported island communities to own and operate EVs to aid residents get around areas where there is no alternative public transport. Rather than have a big EV minibus, multiple smaller EVs were preferred by three of the island communities we’ve worked with as it allows more flexibility to operate the services they provide. A smaller vehicle is better for accessing properties that have long & narrow or bumpy access roads. There’s more confidence that if one EV battery is low, it can be charged while the other is used. Both can be used for totally different trips at the same time and quite often a smaller vehicle would suffice for the journey.
Each island group has decided to operate two eNV200s. One a seven seater, and one a five seater with wheelchair access. The wheelchair access ramp folds away so doubles up as a very large boot for deliveries of goods when wheelchair access isn’t required. During the first lockdown this was very useful as it helped the communities to offer essential deliveries including food and medicines.
It’s also given the communities a chance to fill in transport gaps and supplement statutory or council services. For instance, some of the vehicles are being used to fulfil school bus contracts. All in all, this is a solution that is really flexible to meet the needs of the community.
The ReFLEX project contracted Co-wheels to run two electric car club locations alongside the three that were set up in Orkney just before the pandemic. Co-wheels car club is a pay-as-you-go electric car hire scheme. There is no upfront cost if joining as part of the ReFLEX project and is just £4.13 per hour to hire in Orkney. There aren’t reams of paperwork to fill out every time you want to book an EV and there is no key swapping as you access the car via your smart card, issued to you when you sign up.
Both locations are close to ferry terminals that connect the outer and inner Orkney islands so residents can be foot passengers and pick up the car club car on the other side. CoMoUK (The charity for the public benefit of shared cars, bikes, e‑scooters and rides) has gathered evidence across many locations in the UK of an increased uptake of active travel when there is access to a car club and that fewer vehicles are purchased.
Leasing is another option if you need sole use of a vehicle rather than any of the options above. The ‘lifetime cost’ of an EV is less than that of a petrol/diesel and leasing greatly reduces one of the main barriers to realise this saving, the initial cost. The difference in the initial cost between an old petrol/diesel and a second-hand EV can be staggering and it may not be possible for some of us to afford that cost. Leasing still has an initial cost in the order of £1000 but this is significantly less than buying it outright. This would then be followed by monthly payments for the duration of the lease.
I challenge you to look at the low carbon transport options near you and try them out! Is it safe to walk or cycle? Is there a car club? Does your local community run a transport service? If the answers are ‘no’ but you want them to be ‘yes’, get in touch with your local council and community groups.
Eibhlin Lee, Trading Manager @CES. Original blog written for ‘This is Engineering Day’, IoM3 as the then CES ReFLEX Project Manager
At Community Energy Scotland we value our team’s and communities’ opinions. Blogs are a chance for us, our members and guests to share personal opinions and expertise, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Community Energy Scotland as an organisation. Please note opinions may change and Community Energy Scotland does not offer any endorsements.
Today, we’re pleased to announce that the ReFLEX Orkney project has launched a new carbon calculator to help the Orkney community estimate its carbon footprint and monitor it over time.
The carbon calculator has been designed specifically for individuals and households in Orkney, using Orkney specific calculations where possible. It is available for anyone to use but note it may not be as reflective of carbon footprints for those that live elsewhere.
The calculator covers household energy, diet, consumables and travel and should take around 10 minutes to complete.
Once all questions have been answered, ReFLEX will calculate your personal or household carbon footprint, providing a breakdown of different sectors to indicate the biggest contributors, and a comparison to UK and global averages.
“Understanding our carbon footprint and the impact of our actions and consumption on climate change can help motivate people, business and governments to take action and reduce our carbon emissions.”
Gareth Davies, MD of Aquatera, ReFLEX partner responsible for developing the carbon calculator.
A new ground-breaking local energy company, ReFLEX Orkney Ltd, has launched a range of new low-carbon transport and power services exclusive to Orkney residents and businesses to further decarbonise the island’s energy system.
This is a major milestone for the £28.5 million ReFLEX Orkney project which is part funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and match funded by private investment.
Orkney already generates over 100% of its electricity demand annually from renewables. The project aims to help the community takes full advantage of its renewable energy potential, putting Orkney at the forefront of demonstrating how to reduce carbon, abate climate change, and protect wellbeing, livelihoods and the ecosystem; a top priority for governments, as well as wider society.
At the heart of the project is the demonstration of flexibility using technologies like batteries, electric vehicles, smart chargers and smart meters, which are being made available via affordable lease and other financing helping customers to avoid large upfront costs.
The project is also creating larger-scale and community-focused initiatives such as electric buses, a local electric car club and the integration of green hydrogen for storage and transport.
A key part of the ReFLEX service offering is the ReFLEX support team who will help guide and support energy customers to a decarbonised solution that best suits their needs. The aim is to be a one-stop-shop for all energy service needs.
The new services are available exclusively to Orkney residents who are members of ReFLEX. Membership is free to join, and members are supplied with up-to-date information about the latest service offers as well as topical information about new technologies, approaches and top tips for increasing energy efficiency and affordability.
The initial ReFLEX services include:
Electric vehicle leasing: to increase the use of electric vehicles, the ReFLEX leasing model offers a wide range of market leading EV’s with strong financial incentives for early adoption. The vehicles range from ZOEs to Teslas, minis to estate cars, with a variety of vans available too. The vehicles are supplied through the UKs leading EV leasing business, DriveElectric. The leases include benefits tailored to the needs of Orcadians such as use of a longer-range vehicle for trips off Orkney. A selection of vehicles are available for test drives in Orkney.
Electric vehicle chargers for off-street parking: The ReFLEX team will help support with grant applications to cover most of the cost of a new charger and installation, and support grid and planning permission applications. These home car chargers will enable faster charging and charge scheduling to help manage energy use.
New 100% renewable electricity tariffs: ReFLEX is committed to helping customers access the most appropriate electricity supply tariff for their needs. Supplied by Shell Energy Retail, the residents of Orkney have the choice of two tariffs at launch: the ReFLEX Orkney tariff, a flat, low rate tariff; and ReFLEX Orkney Charge and Drive which includes the equivalent of 2,000 free miles for your electric vehicle. Each tariff comes with smart meter installation – a great tool to help track energy consumption and reduce energy waste.
Fully electric pay-as-you-go car club: In addition to the individual car leasing options ReFLEX has teamed up with Co-wheels to introduce new EVs into the local car club. When signing up to Co-wheels, use the REFLEX1 code to access £25 of start-up credit and a 25% discount.
ReFLEX Orkney is currently developing additional services to launch in 2021, including battery storage for linking with micro-generation and a heating installation service to help lower bills and reduce carbon emissions. ReFLEX aims to continue to develop and broaden the range of offerings taking on board feedback from the community.
Further details about the ReFLEX membership and services* are available on ReFLEX’s newly launched website – www.reflexorkney.co.uk – and the customer services team are available via email or phone to discuss options. *ReFLEX membership and services are available to Orkney residents only.
A dedicated shop for ReFLEX Orkney is due to open on the Kirkwall high street in the new year where customers can speak to the customer services team directly, and a roadshow is being developed to take ReFLEX to various locations across the Orkney Islands.
“The launch of ReFLEX Orkney Ltd and the range of products and services is a major milestone for the ReFLEX Orkney project. We are pioneering an integrated, affordable, low-carbon energy system in Orkney which can then be used as a blueprint for other locations.
“A key aim for ReFLEX is to encourage early adoption of these technologies, as well as inspiring community participation in the drive to decarbonise Orkney. By becoming a member of ReFLEX, the community can help us shape it and demonstrate how communities can create smart local energy systems. In return we will help the community access affordable low carbon technologies and services, and better understand and manage their energy use.
“This is very timely as the UK government has just announced an end of the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2030 as part of an ambitious plan for green industrial revolution, and yet again Orkney is ahead of the curve, ready to demonstrate to the nation.”
Gareth Davies, Managing Director of ReFLEX Orkney Ltd
“ReFLEX Orkney is a ground-breaking project in the Energy Revolution Challenge. The approach the ReFLEX team is taking combines abundant renewable energy resources with thorough engagement with local communities and organisations alongside the development of a joined-up, affordable, low-carbon energy system in Orkney.
“Clean energy delivered across smart and efficient local networks will play a major role in achieving the net zero goals of 2050. Today’s launch of a new range of low-carbon transport and power services to further decarbonise the Orkney energy system highlights the opportunities that are available to the UK through this kind of innovation.”
Rob Saunders, Challenge Director, Prospering from the Energy Revolution, UK Research and Innovation
The concept behind the Surf ‘n Turf project is to enable Orkney to both make and use more electricity locally; to reduce fossil fuels imports and CO2 emissions; and to support Orkney communities and companies to herness locally sourced energy.
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has invested in an electrolyser to use power from tidal turbines operating at the company’s test site off Eday to produce hydrogen by splitting water.
To build on this, Community Energy Scotland and partners created Surf ‘n’ Turf, so that power from Eday Renewable Energy’s community wind turbine can also be used to produce hydrogen using EMEC’s electrolyser.
Hydrogen can be stored, so it is shipped to Kirkwall where a hydrogen fuel cell is housed on Kirkwall Pier. The fuel cell converts the hydrogen back into electricity by mixing it with oxygen from the air. This electricity can power facilities in the Harbour area, and the ferries when docked.
Watch this three-minute video explaining what the Surf ‘n’ Turf project involves and how the technology works.
In addition, the Surf ‘n’ Turf project is building this fuel cell to marine standards, as it would be on a ship, which will create a unique UK facility to allow mariners to train in Orkney for any future hydrogen powered vessel.
And the future?
Through Surf ’n’ Turf, Orkney is pioneering practical uses of hydrogen. Training and new opportunities with clean fuels are potentially of significance to shipping and other industries – as well as to communities that are rich in renewable energy resources, but have grid issues of their own.
The Surf ’n’ Turf project has attracted £1.46 million in development funding from the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund.
It is co-funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 programme, under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
The project is led by Community Energy Scotland, alongside partners EMEC, Orkney Island Council, Eday Renewable Energy and ITM Power.
Community Energy Scotland in Orkney is taking the lead for the whole UK as the European Union explores ‘Smart Island Energy systems’ – ways for islands to capitalise upon their energy resources.
SMILE joins a suite of projects across Scotland where CES is working with partners to overcome grid constraints so that community owned renewables can create local confidence and value, help people reduce their energy costs, strengthen local services, and promote skills and employment.
Increasing and managing the local electricity demand in Orkney will allow more renewable energy generation. Generators there are frequently curtailed due to the limited grid capacity within the island archipelago. When community owned wind turbines increase their electricity production, the proceeds directly benefit the local residents.
Several approaches are being tested, including:
Integration of battery technology
Electric power to heat
Electric power to fuel
Electricity stored aboard boats
Home heating and electric vehicle charging will be a large part of the Orkney trials.
Local partners will upgrade already established equipment to be more energy efficient and to act in a ‘grid-smart’ way – in other words with the ability to respond to and assist the local electric grid and renewable energy supply.
Operating in real-life conditions will show how well the electric vehicle chargers, domestic heat pumps, household batteries and hot water stores suit local circumstances.
Key to making it work will be ensuring participants in the project experience little or no disruption to their normal routine.
The SMILE project – www.h2020smile.eu – has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement 731249.