OREF is an organisation which has an interesting mix of business members and individuals from and outwith Orkney. From this membership a Board of Directors (12 people) is appointed annually to manage the organisation on a voluntary basis. The 12 people are a mix of individuals and business representatives. This gives the Board a good balance and ensures that it operates in a way to support every aspect of the Renewables world.

The Board meets every month (rotating between Kirkwall and Stromness). Each board meeting is followed by an Open meeting where members and non-members are welcome to attend – This is a discussion forum, usually with a guest speaker, to talk about a wide variety of topics. Entrance is free to members and £3 for non-members (who are welcome to join on the night)

Membership

Today, OREF has over 100 members, and is growing every year. Business members benefit from OREF’s promotion of members, showcasing of Orkney at conferences and trade shows, and hosting of high profile visitors to the county. OREF also puts on a regular schedule of public talks and events centred on the topic of renewable energy, and lobbies on strategic issues such as policy, grid and energy innovation which are relevant to Orkney as a whole.

Full membership is open to any business or individual based within Orkney, and OREF also offers associate membership to those outside Orkney. Find out more or join OREF.

As well as our function as a membership organisation, OREF also delivers a range of renewable energy projects and activities.

Events

OREF regularly organises or co-hosts renewable energy events, attends external events, conferences and industry meetings, and hosts visitors to Orkney. OREF events cover many different aspects of the renewable energy industry, and range from informative talks to local trade shows, and from consultation meetings to electric vehicle shows.

Projects

We also run a range of our own projects and activities, and are proud to contribute research, data and opinions to Orkney’s renewable energy sector, and the wider renewables industry. OREF recently commissioned a comprehensive audit of energy in Orkney, while ongoing projects include microgenerator and electric vehicle databases for the county.

Consultations

OREF regularly responds to consultations on a wide range of matters affecting Orkney’s renewable energy industry, seeking to represent the best interests of the sector as a whole. We are always keen to receive input from our members any consultations, so keep an eye out for emails seeking your opinions. Non-members may also be invited to contribute to an OREF response on occasion, so make sure to check our website and social media regularly to stay up to date.

History

The Orkney Renewable Energy Forum was established in 2000 as a discussion forum for anyone involved or interested in the development of renewable energy in Orkney. During the next few years, OREF became increasingly involved in a range of local renewable energy developments, including an instrumental role in the establishment of the first wholly locally owned wind turbine in the UK, which was erected in Burray in 2004.

In 2006, OREF went through an important internal development when it became a Company limited by guarantee. Under this new structure, OREF expanded its fields of operation, with the establishment of several subgroups covering the environmental, commercial and community aspects of renewables. In 2007, OREF activities saw another expansion with the employment of its first member of staff, as well as a establishing a new Research and Development subgroup.

2013 marked the most notable expansion of OREF to date, with the creation of a full time Development Manager post to carry out a comprehensive Development Plan with funding from LEADER, Orkney Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

In recent years OREF has been involved in, and supported, a number of other areas:

  • The dramatic increase in domestic renewables, both wind and solar, means that over 1000 homes in Orkney generate their own power. OREF has many members from this group and a number of board members.
  • The rapid development and deployment of Electric vehicles – There are now over 200 EVs on the island. OREF has established an EV subgroup to support this area and has representation on the board.
  • The on-going Grid constraints on the islands have led to innovative developments such as:
    • The production of Hydrogen from constrained electricity which is subsequently used to power ferry’s whilst in harbour and fuel cell / electric vehicles. OREF has now established a Hydrogen subgroup to support this area.
    • Community based projects (Smart and Smile) to divert constrained electricity to designated homes to heat the water / house or provide power to charge EVs. OREF has a member on the board to represent this area.