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Island of Hoy Moves to Off-Grid Energy - StorTera

January 16, 2020

We asked one of the organising residents of Hoy to describe why they chose to work with us on their renewable energy projects. 

The inhabitants of Hoy , the second largest of the Orkney Islands, began its’ move to fossil-free energy when it purchased a large 900kW wind turbine in 2011. The turbine has running at high levels of efficiency and has contributed financially towards, amongst other things, a local bus infrastructure, land purchases and town hall refurbishment. 

Northern rural areas such as Orkney, as well as being off the gas-grid, experience fuel poverty, power outages and high electricity rates so , by local vote, a second phase of renewable energy innovation was requested .

The main goal of using renewable energy in this area is to reduce the inhabitants’ cost of premium energy rates experienced by northernmost Scotland. After assessing the available technologies against the projects targeted outcomes, it became apparent that solar panels and battery storage would be the best choice of technology solutions. 

Hoy Energy Ltd searched the industry for suitable technology suppliers and development partners, of which there were several in each category, however they found a seemingly unique opportunity in an Edinburgh based company called StorTera. 

It was quickly apparent that StorTera’s wide experience in design, manufacture and supply of renewable energy generation and storage systems, ranging from off grid supplies in Scotland to Telecom infrastructure support in equatorial Asia, could be utilised to combine the roles of both technology supplier and development partner for this project. 

The flexibility of this innovative system affords efficiency gains that are relevant to the householders’ energy costs rather than any previous design focus which was aimed primarily at high generation levels for the purposes of subsidy payments.

March of 2019 saw the design of an initial test system completed and a manufacturing order placed. The grid connection in the Hoy test bed facility went live late in April and the StorTera team arrived with the solar array and the rest of the equipment in July.

The system supplied by StorTera includes a 3.3kW solar array along with a StorTower energy storage system comprising a 3.68 kW hybrid inverter and 7.5 kWh of lithium ferrous phosphate batteries. The system also includes a TRAICON artificial intelligent controller which monitors demand and controls supply to specific loads in the home, in order to maximise on-site use of solar and ensure operation is matched to the occupancy loads of any given property.  

This system forgoes any export of energy to the grid, which in Orkney is particularly appropriate due to the highly constrained grid capacity on the islands and instead allows home-owners to reduce electricity costs by powering their homes and heating their water using solar energy and battery storage.

The TRAICON artificial intelligence system is designed to maximise use of solar energy; either powering the home directly, charging the battery storage system, or automatically diverting any excess solar generation to a domestic hot water tank, thermal store or any other household loads specified by the home-owner at point of installation. 

The ability for this solar PV system to augment an oil fired or solid fuel fired domestic heating system is also seen as a step forward in the quest to reduce carbon emissions at a local level. 

Hoy Energy Ltd, plans to complete prototype testing during the spring of 2020 and is targeting pilot installations within the Hoy community within the summer. 

A roll out of general installations across 100+ homes is planned thereafter, bringing long term savings and efficiency savings over many years for this remote rural Scottish community. 

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