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  • Orkney Smart Grid

    Our smart grid on Orkney is the first to be commissioned in the UK.
    Image of a wind turbine.
  • About the Orkney Smart Grid project

    Since 2009, Orkney has been home to the UK’s first ‘smart grid’. The smart grid has enabled the same amount of renewable generation to be connected to Orkney’s distribution network as would have been made possible by conventional network reinforcement at a fraction of the cost

    Work on the smart grid began in 2004, when SSEPD initiated studies with the University of Strathclyde to address the issue of capacity constraints on the electricity distribution network which were limiting the potential for renewable generation developers to harvest the significant renewable energy resource on the Orkney Isles.

    An innovative new Active Network Management (ANM) approach was devised to make better use of the existing network by instructing generators to control their output, in real time, to match the available network capacity.

    This led to the creation of a spin out company, Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS), to develop and deliver an ANM system to meet SSEPD's objectives.


    The ANM was switched on in 2009. It allows the power flows at several points on the network to be monitored, and power flows from multiple new renewable generators to be controlled. The technology is based around a central controller, which collects data from ‘pinch points’ geographically distributed around the network. 

    The central controller identifies when power flows are approaching the limits of the network power rating and sends instructions to generators to reduce their output in time before problems occur. The system is designed to be fail safe to protect the network if generators do not respond correctly to control signals within specified time limits.

    By 2012, almost 20MW of new renewable generation has agreed contracts to connect to the Orkney system as a result of the smart grid.

    Today, the Orkney smart grid continues to evolve. Smarter Grid Solutions are at the forefront of smart grid technology and are working with SSEPD to enhance the ANM system.


    The connection of this level of renewable generation on Orkney by conventional network upgrading and reinforcement would have cost around £30 million, and would have meant long lead times and substantial environmental impact. The total cost of developing and delivering the Orkney Smart Grid has been around £500,000.


    The ANM technology enabled SSEPD to create the Orkney Registered Power Zone (RPZ) in 2005.  RPZ is a designation awarded through Ofgem to reward innovation.  This highlights how our work on Orkney has been recognised as an excellent example of using innovation to help unlock the potential of renewable generation

    SSEPD is committed to sharing the learning from the development of the Smart Grid to help other network operators apply the concept on their networks.
  • David MacLeman,
    Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution, 
    10 Henderson Road, Inverness IV1 1SN. 

    Dr Bob Currie,
    Smarter Grid Solutions, Inc, 
    Urban Future Lab, 15 MetroTech Center,
    19th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11201. 

    Prof Graham Ault, 
    Smarter Grid Solutions, Corunna House,
    39 Cadogan Street, Glasgow G2 7AB.

    Media Enquiries

    Please call our Press Office: 08450 760530 From 01/07/2015, a Service Charge applies to calling 084 numbers. Contact your phone company if you want to check what a call would cost.                 
  • Knowledge sharing events

    As part of SSEPD’s commitment to knowledge sharing and dissemination, we run interactive events designed to maximise the learning from our innovation projects.

    We held our first event on the Orkney Smart Grid in London on 18 May 2012 at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in London.

    The second event took place on Orkney on the 3 and 4 September 2013 as the system became business reality. Attendees were given a tour of both the Orkney Mainland and Kirkwall Power Station.

    Take a look at the links below for more information about both events.