April 2021

On Tuesday 6th April, OREF hosted a husting of candidates in the 2021 Scottish Parliament Elections.

February 2021

Ross Armstrong of Warmworks presented on the opportunities available in the county for Orkney residents to get help through the Home Energy Efficiency Programme Scotland: Area Based Scheme.

December 2020

The Just Transition Commission delivered a session at the OREF public meeting on 1st Dec.

The Just Transition Commission was set up in 2019 to give practical advice on how Scotland can meet its ambitious climate change targets in a way that is fair for all.

The Commission had been planning to visit Orkney Islands this December to learn more about innovative solutions to climate change being pioneered in the Islands, but also explore how we can socialise the benefits of new technology and make the transition to net-zero in a way that benefits everyone. Covid-19 has postponed the Commission’s visit to Orkney, but they are keen to hear from as broad a range of voices as possible as they continue to progress their work.

This was a great opportunity for the public to directly feed in their experiences to decision makers on the topic of climate change.

September 2020

On Tuesday 1st September 2020, Lesley Riddoch gave a presentation to OREF members on the Ultra Local Focus of Power which is normal in northern Europe, but which doesn’t exist in Scotland.

By way of an example, Norway has over 400 local authorities, whilst Scotland has 32. As Lesley explained, the lack of truly local accountability and the large council area sizes means we have no real local democracy in Scotland. Lesley added that the lack of access to the land in Scotland when compared to our northern European neighbours has a profoundly negative impact on our collective wellbeing.

Lesley is a highly respected author, journalist, film maker and broadcaster who has been a director of the policy group Nordic Horizons for 10 years. She co-edited the book Northern Neighbours comparing Scotland and Norway since 1800.

She has just finished a PHD on the history of huts, land ownership and leisure in the 2 countries. Lesley’s latest book “Huts, a place beyond” is now available through the following link: www.lesleyriddoch.com

Ultra Local Focus of Power (Lesley Riddoch 2020)

July 2020

On Tuesday 7th July at 7.30pm OREF members Peter Oswald and Neil Kermode presented findings based on some ‘citizen science’ undertaken on Nissan Leafs in Orkney. This was followed by a presentation by and internationally renowned battery expert Euan McTurk on aspects of keeping your EV in good order.

OREF had done an assay on LEAF batteries three times; in January 2018, 2019 and March 2020. From that work some patterns began to emerge showing the improvements in batteries in the cars in each successive generation of LEAF.

In addition a clear correlation seems to have emerged as to negative effect on battery health of too many RAPID charges. However it also shows that the degradation rate of the batteries is far better than the ‘petrol heads’ had predicted with the batteries likely to outlast the cars.

Euan explained why you should seek to keep your battery within the middle of its charge range and not to keep it over topped up by leaving  it to charge to 100% all the time.

OREF is extremely grateful to Euan for his presentation; work that can be seen in more detail on his  YouTube channel https://www.pluglifetelevision.co.uk/

What we know about EV batteries (N Kermode & P Oswald 2020)

June 2020

Over the last decade Orkney has been through an unprecedented sequence of twists and turns that have had a profound influence upon the islands of Orkney. Many of these have also had a direct influence upon the capacity of Orkney to help combat climate change.

The monthly OREF meeting on the 2nd of June looked at energy matters in the light of the challenges and opportunities that now face us.

Gareth Davies, joint Chair of OREF provided an overview of some of the key events that have happened, the consequences they have had and the responses that are now potentially open to Orkney, as an island community.

The meeting looked at the various pressures, issues, opportunities and constraints at play arising from COVID-19 and focused upon those that are specifically linked to energy and climate change.

The results of the meeting, which included online polling, offers the wider community, and our local and national leaders some ideas about how best to respond, recover and renew our economy to ensure that our community and wider society gets a significant carbon abatement dividend out of the COVID crisis.

Politics, COVID & Climate Change (G Davies 2020)

Sankey Diagram (updated to include EV usage in Orkney)


May 2020 

On Tuesday May 5th, author Robin McAlpine of Common Weal presented highlights from their prospectus for change called ‘Our Common Home’ to a nearly 50 strong OREF virtual audience on TEAMS.
Taking the audience through the 10 major topic areas of what we need to do in Scotland; Robin showed with startling clarity how some of the iniquities of the pre-COVID world can be re-shaped and turned into national opportunities. He also showed how this can be done at no additional cost and in many cases at a saving against the present untenable situation.
The Prospectus makes interesting reading.
The evening was hosted by OREF Board members Jon Southerington and Neil Kermode.


April 2020 

These talks on the topic of Hydrogen Ferries were  delivered online via Microsoft Teams.

David Hibbert, Technical Superintendent, Development & Infrastructure, Marine Services provided a presentation on the development in Hydrogen Ferry projects in Orkney.

Trond Stromgren, Head R&D and Senior Advisor, Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Value Chain in Ocean Hyway Cluster (Norwegian industry cluster for maritime use of hydrogen), presented on Norwegian hydrogen vessel projects.  Shortly after the event, Trond noticed an error in his presentation, referencing a shipment of 450 kilos of hydrogen from Brunei to Japan. 4,7 metric tons is the correct quantity, as stated in an article he wrote in February 2020

Hydrogen Ferries (David Hibbert 2020)

Maritime Hydrogen in Norway (Trond Strømgren 2020)


February 2020

Lindsey Johnson, Manager of THAW Orkney will talk about the impact of the work taking place in Orkney and potential development opportunities and associated challenges.

THAW Orkney: helping to make a difference (Lindsey Johnston 2020)

July 2019

A discussion on hydrogen projects that are live in Orkney, some of the international collaborations that are ongoing behind the scenes, and the recently launched Draft Orkney Hydrogen Strategy

Orkney Hydrogen Strategy Consultation (A Lidderdale 2019)

May 2019

Partners in the REFLEX project presented the project to OREF members at the May meeting.  This £28m UKRI funded ReFLEX (Responsive Flexibility) project aims to create a ‘smart energy island’, demonstrating the energy system of the future, which will reduce and eventually eliminate the need for fossil fuels.  The project is led by EMEC and brings together a consortium of Orkney based partners – Solo Energy, Aquatera, Community Energy Scotland, Heriot-Watt University and OIC (all OREF members) as well as multi-national energy company Doosan Babcock.

 ReFLEX Presentation (2019)

April 2019

Colin Arnold, Plant Manager at World leading Caithness company AGM Batteries, attended the April Open meeting to present to OREF members.  He gave a history of AGM Batteries, introduced their parent company AMTE Power and explained the progress made so far.

AGM Batteries Presentation (2019)

January 2019

Representatives from Sunamp Ltd presented on their technology, UniQ Heat Batteries at the OREF meeting on 30th Jan.

Sunamp produce Phase Change Material Heat Batteries that are designed to replace standard hot water cylinders. The units state that they have a higher energy density and lower heat loss than cylinders. The heat is stored in a saline solution instead of a body of hot water, and when the hot water is required, the heat is exchanged into a cold water input, giving the home very quick hot water on demand.

This technology is soon to be installed into properties through zone 1 of Orkney’s grid as part of Community Energy Scotland’s SMILE project.

Sunamp Presentation (2019)

April 2018

3/4/18 saw the launch of the Orkney Electric Vehicle Strategy 2018-2023. This strategy helps guide the necessary investments for EVs in Orkney. It was drafted by OREF members and consulted upon late 2017. The powerpoint from the launch event, final EV Strategy and consultation report can be found in the links below.

 April OREF meeting EVs in Orkney

 Orkney EV Strategy 2018-23

 Report on EV Strategy consultation

March 2018

On 6/3/18  Alistair Morton from Orkney Islands Council outlined several building projects currently underway using innovative renewable technologies. Ian Johnstone presented slides provided my Robert Leslie on smart metering and “Our Power” a community energy supply company. Both the sides and meeting notes can be found in the below link.

  March OREF meeting (Neil Kermode 2018)

February 2018

On 6/2/18 Luke Fraser from the Orkney Islands Council presented Statistical Orkney. Covering the Island’s Demographic, Income & Employment, Energy & Fuel Poverty and Housing the presentation gave a great insight into some key Orkney stats. A link to Luke’s power point presentation can be found below.

Statistical Orkney (Luke Fraser 2018)

Following on from Lukes talk Neil Kermode gave a presentation no how we can use statistics to make informed decisions. The presentation can be found below.

Decisions based on facts  (N Kermode 2018)

September 2017

The Board of Hitrans (One of the seven Regional Transport Partnerships in Scotland which were established through the 2005 Transport (Scotland) Act.) met in Kirkwall in the council chamber on 14/9/17. OREF Board member Neil Kermode was asked to do a presentation on the progress made in Orkney with Electric Vehicles.

HITRANS presentation (N Kermode 2017)

March 2017

On 4th March OREF met with EV owners to discuss Orkney’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy.

In 2014 OIC produced a strategy that planned how to encourage the adoption of EVs. At that time there were about a dozen. In 2015 we sent our ‘No CO2!’ message written in EVs to the Paris talks.  Now there are close to a hundred EVs in the county!

20 people came along to the event and some useful ideas were put on the table along with a great snapshot of local experience. Output from the morning will inform a draft new strategy to help OIC and others get what we need as EV drivers.

EV Strategy Meeting(N Kermode 2017)

January 2017

OREF hosted a meeting on 10th January to review various recently launched consultations and discuss OREF’s responses.  A full summary of this meeting can be viewed here.

January Consultathon (G Davies 2016)

November 2016

OREF hosted an open meeting on 10th November on the topic of Energy Storage and Energy Management and the prospects for Orkney to establish a new centre of excellence.

Gareth Davies and Sandy Kerr outlined the latest strategic thinking for establishing an energy storage lab within the Orkney Living Laboratory. Mark Hull provided a comprehensive update on a number of the energy storage and balancing related projects that are taking place or about to start in Orkney.  A full summary of the meeting can be read here.

Orkney: The Living Laboratory – Energy Storage Lab (G Davies & S Kerr 2016)

Leading from the Bleeding Edge? (M Hull 2016)

October 2016

On 4th October, OREF and fuel poverty charity THAW Orkney hosted a meeting to launch a new funding scheme which could raise thousands of pounds to help folk achieve affordable warmth in their homes. The scheme will encourage renewables generators in the county to donate some of their Feed-in Tariff (FIT) income, which is paid for through electricity bills, to the local charity’s affordable warmth project.

Peter Rickard, Interim Manager of THAW Orkney provided an update on THAW’s recent activities and on the deeper understanding that was being created about affordable warmth.

Working together and sharing profits to help Orkney households live in affordable warmth (P Rickard 2016)

August 2016

OREF and members met with new Scottish Government Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, on 30th August 2016.  OREF Chair made an overall presentation to Mr Wheelhouse about the current state of the renewable sector in Orkney, the severe challenges being faced and the possible solutions that the Scottish Government and others could help with.  The individual business representatives then discussed some specific issues with the Minister.  It was clear that Mr Wheelhouse understood the concerns that had been raised and was keen to support some of the ideas being put forward to resolve them.

Securing Orkney’s Global Leadership Role in Renewables (G Davies 2016)

SSE attended the OREF open meeting on 2nd August to provide information on the locations and methods of installation being considered for the replacement of several submarine electricity cables within the ‘North Isles Ring’ next year.

Gareth Davies presented on behalf of OREF to introduce general capacity, experience and expertise of the local supply chain.

OREF Cable Capacity (G Davies 2016)

SHEPD Submarine Electricity Cable: Marine Licencing PAC Event (J Tarrant 2016)

July 2016

On 5th July, Alistair Morton presented on the various heat pump projects currently underway and planned by Orkney Islands Council.

Renewable Energy: Heat Pumps (A Morton 2016)

June 2016

On 28th June, OREF were delighted to welcome presentations from The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and a delegation of community renewables groups from the Western Isles.

Sarah Best from the IIED gave the first presentation detailing opportunities for, barriers to and examples of renewables roll out to some of the disadvantaged communities around the world. This presentation gave a wonderful insight into this important application of renewables technology and the finance and politics associated with it.

We then saw a series of presentations from the Western Isles about 5 community energy projects in their islands. These presentations were both humorous and interesting and showed the high level of commonality in the issues faced between Orkney and the Western Isles.

Energy for All (S Best, IIED, 2016)

Delivering a Circular Economy (Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub 2016)

Community Power Outer Hebrides (2016)

Galson Estate Trust (2016)

Arcola Energy attended the OREF Open Meeting on 7th June to talk about their Orkney Schools Hydrogen Project and Workshops.

The Community Energy Scotland (CES) led Surf n Turf project provided funds to bring the Arcola Hydrogen Education and Outreach team to Orkney for a 3 week visit during June to run their Schools Hydrogen Challenge Workshops.  This involves providing information about energy, and especially Hydrogen to both primary and secondary pupils and then letting them design and build cars out of Lego that they will be able to power by a small amount of Hydrogen, in order to compete to try to see whose design will go farthest.

Arcola Energy: An Introduction (A Harris 2016)

Surf ‘N’ Turf (M Hull 2016)

April 2016

On 5th April OREF hosted a meeting to strengthen the collaboration and working relationships between OREF and THAW.  Robert Leslie and Stacy Johnston from THAW presented on the latest information about heat vulnerable households, fuel poverty statistics and the success of the initiatives to date to begin tackling these issues.

THAW Orkney: Project Update (R Leslie & S Johnston 2016)

March 2016

On the 1st March, at Orkney College, OREF held a member showcase event where members were given the opportunity to present information about what they do to an audience of around 25 people.  The companies involved were Roving Eye, Leask Marine, Aquatera, Xodus Group and Scribblilb Consultancy.  The presentations allowed the members to provide an insight into the diversity of work going on in Orkney and elsewhere through local businesses and stimulated a lively discussion about what roll OREF should take and how that could be improved from a business perspective.  The audience left better understanding the breadth of business activity underway in Orkney and all parties appreciating the unique cluster of talent and experience that has been created in these ‘energy islands’.

Roving Eye Enterprises (K Bichan 2016)

Leask Marine (J MacLeod 2016)

Aquatera (G Davies 2016)

Xodus Group (A Taylor 2016)

Scribbilib Consultancy (L Forbes 2016)

OREF (G Davies 2016)

February 2016

The Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SPREEE) met on Thursday 11th February at the Scottish Parliament. The session, chaired by Liam McArthur, was a spotlight on renewables and energy efficiency measures in Orkney. Neil Kermode presented to the group on the topics of wave & tidal energy, onshore renewables, grid and electric vehicles. OREF are grateful to Liam McArthur and Scottish Renewables for this opportunity.

OREF SPREEE Presentation (N Kermode 2016)

At OREF’s open meeting on 2nd February Gareth Davies presented the situation regarding grid applications.  The critical nature of the deadline and getting suitable applications for generation was outlined and the merits of sharing application information was also discussed.  This presentation has been recycled from 2010 and regrettably most of it is still relevant.  Some of the information is now out of date but much of it is still applicable due to the lack of support Orkney has had in getting grid improvements.  However the presentation was used as a method to bring all meeting participants to a common level of understanding regarding grid issues.

Commitment to Connection (G Davies 2016)

January 2016

Jonathan Porterfield of Eco-Cars gave a talk at OREF’s open meeting on 12th January along with input from Chris Ramsay via Skype on their record breaking journey from John O’Groats to Land’s end in a Nissan Leaf.

EV challenge: John o’Groats to Lands’ End in a Nissan Leaf (J Porterfield 2016)

December 2015

New Cable? Understanding the cost to connect renewable generation in Orkney (C Risbridger 2015)

Colin Risbridger of Windflow presented at OREF’s open meeting on 15th December on his experience of developing projects in Orkney and shared information on his thoughts as to how we can justify a new cable.  His talk examined recent quotes for connecting generators in Orkney and included indicative distribution and transmission costs so potential applicants can consider whether to apply for new grid capacity.

Colin’s presentation indicates the payable TNUos should it be applied and mentions the current consultation which ultimately decide whether there will be charges to the levels upon which TNUoS is payable

Who pays TNUoS (statement from National Grid)

Any project that connects to the Transmission network (i.e. in Scotland connect at voltage of 132kV or above) and has a Bilateral Connection Agreement with National Grid will need to pay TNUoS. In addition any licensable power station (>100MW) will also pay TNUoS regardless of whether they connect at Transmission or Distribution voltages.

At present, a generator connected at distribution voltages with a capacity of <100MW is not liable to pay TNUoS (but they would pay distribution charges).

One reason for highlighting uncertainty is the future charging methodology is that there is current interest in the future of charges, and ensuring cost reflectivity for transmission reinforcements which are being triggered as a result of the growth of embedded generation.  Embedded generation is, in many places, causing flows onto the transmission network from distribution networks, and triggering reinforcement works.  National Grid recently ran a consultation on this “exporting grid supply points” issue.  It is possible in future that cost reflective transmission charges may be passed to embedded generation directly, or to embedded generation via the distribution network.  These future changes to the charging methodology may affect charges paid by embedded generation in places such as Orkney before the early next decade timescales that you are looking at.

The link to the recent consultation, and the responses can be found here

At OREF’s open meeting on 1st December, Ian Johnstone gave a short presentation on the Islands Bill followed by discussions with approx 20 members of the public to inform OREF’s response to the consultation.

Future Islands Bill Consultation (I Johnstone 2015)

November 2015

Presentation by Robert Leslie of THAW at the OREF Open Meeting on 3rd November.

Smart Meters – when will Orkney benefit?

October 2015

Visit to Orkney by a delegation from the Zhoushan Islands province in China.  The Zhoushan local government officials were interested in establishing links with Orkney marine energy and consultancy businesses. OREF and members welcomed the opportunity to meet with the delegation.

Introduction to current situation of ocean energy development in Zhoushan, China (2015)

OREF (E. Buck 2015)

Making marine renewables work (J. MacLeod, Leask Marine, 2015)

International marine renewable support (I. Johnstone, Aquatera, 2015)

July 2015

Presentation by Robert Leslie of Tackling Household Affordable Warmth (THAW) Orkney.

Affordable Warmth: What’s in the pipeline?

April 2015

Summary of OREF’s recent achievement, presented by Christina Bristow at the OREF AGM.

Development Manager update for the OREF AGM (C. Bristow, 2015)

March 2015

Presentation about the findings of the Orkney Energy Audit, delivered as part of a Shapinsay Development Trust event entitled ‘Making the most of Whirly: Responses to curtailment’, which aimed to inform future decisions on how to tackle the curtailment affecting the Shapinsay community wind turbine. This presentation was also given by Ian Johnstone at various events in 2014-2015.

The Orkney Energy Audit Presentation (Aquatera & OREF, 2014-15)

December 2014

An evening talk from the National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios team, who came to Orkney to share their insights into the future of energy and hear about Orcadian experiences of energy.

‘Gazing into the future of energy’ – National Grid Future Energy Scenarios (L. Macleod & R. Fowler, 2014)

October 2014

Presentation by OREF Development Manager Christina Bristow following a trip to the Danish ‘energy island’ of Samsø.

Update on OREF Activities and trip to Samsø (C. Bristow, 2014)

June 2014

An evening talk by Dr Ruairi MacIver entitled ‘Hydrogen Hebrides: An integrated low carbon transport vision’, detailing the work to date on developing a Hebridean Hydrogen Park, as well as the vision for the future.

Hydrogen Hebrides Presentation (Dr R. MacIver, 2014)

November 2013

Presentation from OREF’s Development Manager Craig MacInnes on grid, transmission alternatives and e-harbours.

Grid, Tranmission Alternatives & E-harbours (C. MacInnes, 2013)

October 2013

An evening of talks and discussion about biomass, with a focus on the Lerwick District Heating Scheme in Shetland.

Lerwick District Heating Scheme Presentation (N. Martin, 2013)

Anaerobic digestion in Orkney – Pros and Cons ( A. Dundas, October 2013)

Development of Sustainable Biomass and District Heating in Shetland (G. Sellers, 2013)

March 2013

Update on OREF’s work on the Grid Capacity Project, presented by Elaine Buck at the OREF AGM.

OREF Grid Capacity Project Update (E. Buck, 2013)

Presentation about the Orkney Grid, presented  to OREF by Colin Risbridger.

Orkney Grid Presentation