Powerwall trial for low-carbon Orkney housing development

An innovative domestic battery system, which uses renewable energy to supply low-cost electricity to properties, is being trialled within a new Orkney housing development.

The Tesla Powerwall batteries are being installed in 30 affordable homes being constructed by Orkney Builders (Contractors) Ltd at Grainbank, on the outskirts of Kirkwall.

Orkney Builders (Contractors) Ltd has partnered with energy storage developer Solo Energy, to deliver the low carbon energy scheme.

All 30 properties will be fitted with photovoltaic (solar) panels, the output from which will combine with locally generated wind energy to charge up the Powerwall batteries.

Once charged, the batteries – fitted to the exterior of the properties – can provide enough electricity to power a household for up to a day. The batteries within the housing development can also be linked to act as a local energy storage system, enabling increased renewable generation across the grid.

Tesla Powerwall battery at Grainbank development

The first four completed homes in the Grainbank development will be handed over to their new owners this week.

Solo Energy, which has an office in Stromness, will run the trial of the battery system at Grainbank over the coming year, monitoring its effectiveness in advance of wider planned rollout.

Stephen Kemp, managing director of Orkney Builders (Contractors) Ltd, said: “As a company committed to building affordable, low-carbon homes, this Powerwall trial with Solo Energy is really exciting, offering the promise of cheap electricity for householders and a cost-effective solution to the issue of locally generated renewable energy storage. We’re hoping it will prove to be the missing link in the current system, where we’re unable to fully benefit locally from the enormous renewables resource we have on our doorstep.”

Mark Hamilton, CEO of Solo Energy, said: “Solar panels generate most of their energy during the middle of the day when people often aren’t at home to use it, so most of it gets exported to the grid. The same is often true for micro-wind generation. Our system will instead store that energy for use when property owners return home, saving money and decreasing dependence on the grid.

“Our software platform also allows us to operate batteries across the grid as a smart energy storage network, charging from the grid when local renewable generation is high, and when electricity prices are low. Our aim is to change the current status quo of supply (from fossil fuel generation) responding to demand, to one where demand can instead respond to variable supply from renewable generation.”

He added: “Our trial will initially last a year. During that time we’ll be carefully monitoring the system’s operation, adjusting it to ensure maximum benefit for the householders. If it proves as successful as we predict it will be, then we’ll be looking at offering it more widely, both in Orkney and further afield.”


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