Scottish island builds 5G-powered digital twin of smart energy system
The island of Orkney in Scotland has developed a 5G-powered digital twinning system to help residents participate in the delivery of its new energy network.
Led by Heriot-Watt University’s Global Research, Innovation and Discovery (GRID) facility and supported by the Scotland 5G Centre, the project will develop a immersive 3D simulation of Orkney’s new energy system.
It will make use of the Scotland 5G Rural Testbed, already deployed on the island as one of the Scotland 5G Centre’s flagship projects, led by the University of Strathclyde and Cisco, to show how energy management can be enabled.
The idea of the simulation is to engage the local community about the island’s energy transition and technological upgrade. “The use of decentralised energy networks and 5G infrastructure has largely been restricted to engineers and technology specialists,” said a statement.
“The demonstrator will be used to engage members of the public on Orkney and support their understanding of what can be achieved through new energy networks and the digital control enabled by 5G.”
The project – set to last three months, with the potential to be extended – will capture supply and demand of energy as Orkney reduces carbon emissions with integration of renewable energy on decentralised infrastructure, and the migration to electric vehicles, and domestic batteries, generators, and turbines.
A virtual dashboard will show a “live 5G data connection to key assets on the island” to show the energy network’s key features, said the project’s authors.
David Richardson, chief entrepreneurial executive at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Our digital twinning system will demonstrate how Orkney’s new energy network will operate, what the different component parts are, how people can interact with it and collaborate to create a genuinely democratised energy system.
“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. 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.”
Gordon Ross, innovation strategist at Heriot-Watt University, said: “The future of energy is going to be defined by smart, distributed networks, and micro-grids. We need everyone to understand how they can get involved in making Orkney a ‘smart energy island’. The island is the ideal testing ground for principles that could be applied on a larger scale elsewhere.”
Derek Boyd, interim director at the Scotland 5G Centre, said: “5G will be an integral part of enabling the smart energy systems of the future, delivering the ultra-reliable, low-latency connectivity that is required to manage these networks. We are working with organisations across Scotland to demonstrate its transformative potential.
“While the benefits of 5G are still to be understood for many people, this digital twinning project will go a significant way towards showcasing its potential and the positive impact the next generation of connectivity can have for society and the economy.”
Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, said: “5G technology will be integral to the creation of smart energy systems. This project demonstrates how 5G can support our island communities on the journey towards a carbon neutral future.
“This project is designed to encourage understanding, listening and community engagement in what can be seen as a specialist area. 5G technologies have transformative potential in other areas such as healthcare and transport. Through innovative projects like this, we can illustrate the benefits that 5G can and will deliver for our industries and communities and the people within them.”