Heriot-Watt University re-imagines Scotland’s energy

By William Girling
A project developed by Heriot-Watt University (HWU) will see the Scottish archipelago Orkney transform its energy infrastructure using 5G digital twin...

A project developed by Heriot-Watt University (HWU) will see the Scottish archipelago Orkney transform its energy infrastructure using 5G digital twin.

Currently led by the University’s innovative GRID (global research, innovation and delivery) facility in cooperation with the Scotland 5G Centre, the project will create a 3D model of Orkney which factors in the disparate elements of its energy system.

For example, this digital twin will map EV (electric vehicle) charging points, domestic storage batteries, turbines and power generators.

“The system will show people what can be taken from the virtual world and made into a physical reality, helping communities to flourish with the use of renewable technology,” said David Richardson, Chief Entrepreneurial Executive at Heriot-Watt.

Inspiring an energy revolution

The result of the project will be an immersive simulator with key assets connected with super-fast 5G network speeds. 

It is hoped by developers that Orkney’s energy infrastructure transformation will be a rallying call to other areas of Scotland to embark on a similar journey. 

“It will be an engagement tool that helps people understand how they can get involved in helping the island maximise renewable energy and, ultimately, achieve a carbon-neutral future,” Richardson continued.

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“The system will show people what can be taken from the virtual world and made into a physical reality, helping communities to flourish with the use of renewable technology.”

Creating a smart island

Expected to last for three months, the project will be foundational to establishing 5G as a dominant tech trend in the country. The ultimate endgame is to establish a state-of-the-art energy distribution system to drive operational efficiencies, lower consumer costs and integrate renewable energy sources.

Taking the new ‘smart city’ and ‘smart grid’ concepts in its stride, HWU is determined to make Orkney a ‘smart island’, with the understanding that it forms a scalable test-case for larger areas seeking a similar transformation.

Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, expressed his enthusiasm for the project and opined that it demonstrated the country’s leadership in the energy tech sector.

“Given Scotland’s expertise in renewable energy, 5G technology will be integral to the creation of smart energy systems, and this exciting project demonstrates how 5G technology can support our island communities on the journey towards a carbon-neutral future.”

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