The project will involve developing a demonstrator that will create a virtual 3D environment that models Orkney and the different components in its energy system from electric vehicles to generators and turbines.
The Scottish island of Orkney is using a 5G-powered digital twinning system to progress its plans towards becoming carbon-neutral.
The project is led by Heriot-Watt University’s Global Research Innovation and Discovery facility (GRID) and supported by the Scotland 5G Centre. It will involve developing a demonstrator that will create a virtual 3D environment that models Orkney and the different components in its energy system from electric vehicles and domestic batteries, to generators and turbines.
The immersive simulator system will also build a virtual dashboard, which outlines some of the energy network’s key features, and model a live 5G data connection to key assets on the island.
The Scotland 5G Centre, which is creating the foundations for a central hub for 5G in Scotland and helping to deliver the Scottish Government’s 5G strategy, states that the use of decentralised energy networks and 5G infrastructure has largely been restricted to engineers and technology specialists because they are highly technical in nature.
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.
“It [the digital twin] 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.”
“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,” said David Richardson, chief entrepreneurial executive at Heriot-Watt University.
“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.”
The project – expected to last an initial three months – builds on the 5G RuralFirst initiative already undertaken on Orkney and provides a foundation for the further use of 5G technologies on the island.
One of the Scotland 5G Centre’s flagship projects, Scotland 5G Rural Testbed – led by the University of Strathclyde and Cisco – is providing a 5G testbed on Orkney for a series of trials that could provide a pathway to move from the virtual into the real world ultimately delivering benefits for local communities and industries.
“The future of energy is going to be defined by smart, distributed networks and micro-grids. The island is the ideal testing ground for principles that could be applied on a larger scale elsewhere.”
“There are ambitious projects already underway in Orkney to create a state-of-the-art distributed energy system, helping to secure an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy supply for the future,” added Gordon Ross, innovation strategist at Heriot-Watt University.
“The future of energy is going to be defined by smart, distributed networks and micro-grids. For that to work to its maximum potential we need everyone to understand how it works and 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, reckoned, 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.
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