SMILE to deliver an Orkney smart grid

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Orkney and Community Energy Scotland will take the lead for the whole UK as the European Union explores ways for islands to capitalise upon their energy resources.

The €14 million SMILE project (SMart IsLand Energy systems) sees Orkney collaborate with technical, grid and academic partners across Europe, and fellow island communities of Samsø in Denmark and Portuguese Madeira, to investigate how electricity producers, consumers and the grid that links them, should tackle energy storage and other challenges raised by renewables and electric transport.

Nine technological solutions will be applied where most appropriate in island location, including:

  • integration of battery technology
  • power to heat
  • power to fuel
  • pumped hydro
  • electric vehicles
  • electricity stored aboard boats

Different solutions will test – in real-life operational conditions – a set of technological and non-technological solutions tuned to local circumstances.

In Orkney, SMILE will allow local partners to implement already established equipment, such as electric vehicle chargers and domestic heat pumps, household batteries and hot water stores, 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.

Key to making this work in the real world will be doing it in a way that lets participants in the project, including residents and organisations, have warmer homes and charge vehicles with little or no disruption to their normal activities.

Cutting-edge energy storage systems, sophisticated communication hardware and control programming and large industrial load management will form the more novel parts of the integrated Orkney activities.

Increasing and managing the local electricity demand in Orkney will allow more renewable energy generation, where generators are frequently curtailed due to limited grid capacity. The positive impact on the community-owned wind turbines will enable them to increase their electricity production and sales, the proceeds of which go to directly benefit the island residents.

In light of the UK Government’s clean air strategy and recent announcements regarding a significant move away from petrol and diesel vehicle by the 2030s, SMILE helps to address how electric vehicles will be charged smartly in the future, maximising electricity generation from renewable sources and not overburdening the grid.

For CES, SMILE joins a suite of projects across Scotland where they are working with partners to overcome grid constraints so that community-owned renewables can create local confidence and value; helping people reduce their energy costs, strengthen local services, and promote skills and employment.

Chief Executive, Nicholas Gubbins is looking forward to the project. "SMILE provides a major boost to our work to ensure that communities benefit from the ‘smart energy revolution’. We are delighted to be leading the Orkney demonstrator in this wide-ranging partnership project."


The SMILE project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 731249.

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