Western Power To Trial Smart Grid Technology On Scilly

New generators being installed on Bryher

A high tech system that could make electricity cheaper on the islands is being rolled out as part of an experiment by Western Power.

The utility company is trialling ‘smart grid’ technology here and at a site in Wales. Eventually homes could have new, smart electricity meters that send and receive data to a central computer.

The technology could send solar power generated by locals back to the grid and send signals to turn on power-hungry customer appliances at times when demand is low and power is cheaper.

It would offer a more intelligent way of saving money than the current cheap-rate Economy 7 system, which results in Scilly having its highest winter demands of 4.5 Megawatts at around 1.00am in the morning. That’s a local quirk, because we don’t have mains gas for heating here.

Ritchie Christopher of Western Power says the technology could even allow a Scilly tariff because there would be an accurate picture of demand, which may differ here from the mainland. In Germany some towns have free power at set times to encourage users to consumer energy outside peak times.

The technology can track electrical losses in the islands’ network and cut out energy that is being wasted. Communication dishes have been installed at the power station and on the TV mast to talk directly to generators around the islands so they could be switched on automatically if they detect the failure of the mainland link or if individual areas of the islands face supply problems.

Ritchie says new generators at St Agnes and near Bryher church are all equipped to send and receive data as part of the smart grid.

Westen Power’s infrastructure investments will also bring some aesthetic improvements.

The Porthcressa substation next to the flats is being rebuilt next month. The current, functional, fibre-glass topped structure will be replaced by a more attractive rendered and slate-roofed building that will be set apart from he flats because of concerns about subsidence there.