ReFLEX Orkney & 100 EVs

credit ReFLEX Orkney

Over 100 Electric Vehicles have now been brought into Orkney through the ReFLEX project.

  • 84 leased vehicles
  • 19 car club, demo, community vehicles

ReFLEX (Responsive Flexibility) Orkney is a £28.5 million project aiming to create an integrated energy system (IES) in Orkney, Scotland. The project is part funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and match funded by private investment. 

Commenting, Gareth Davies, Managing Director of ReFLEX Orkney Ltd attending COP26, said: 

“It is very timely to pass the milestone of 100 vehicles in Orkney, during the COP26 summit.  ReFLEX Orkney is a demonstration project, pioneering an integrated, affordable, low-carbon energy system in Orkney which can then be used as a blueprint for others. 

“Interest in electric vehicles has grown steadily since the day ReFLEX Orkney Ltd launched back in December, with 84 electric vehicles leased to people and businesses now in Orkney and another 41 on order, totaling 125 lease orders so far. It has been especially exciting seeing how word of mouth has grown as customers show their new EVs to family and friends.” 

“ReFLEX Orkney is making a big impact on electric vehicle numbers and efforts to decarbonise transport in Orkney already.

“According to DVLA figures, since 2013 the average number of EVs in Orkney has increased by about 40 vehicles a year. ReFLEX Orkney has brought in about two and a half times that figure, since our commercial launch in December 2020. This provides a fantastic example to others of what is possible.”

The Energy Saving Trust has launched an App to collect data about the experiences of EV users. Funded by Transport Scotland it is hoped the collection of the data will shape Scotland’s future policy and infrastructure needs.

You can find out more about the App here: EV Life

2020 and the Covid-19 lockdown resulted in a huge drop in Orkney, and Scotland, of road users, but that has been a blip in a trend of increasing numbers still using private vehicles. People very quickly got back to opting for the car.

The number of Electric Vehicles coming into Orkney may seem to be a good sign in some ways, however, the islands have 928 per 1,000 licensed cars (figs 2018) compared to a Scottish average of 670 per 1,000. Orkney has one of the highest rates of car ownership in Scotland.

Orkney has also seen the introduction of new low emission buses on many of the routes. Having a look around Orkney’s new bus

The choice for many because of various factors including the weather, lack of cycle/pedestrian ways, distances to commute to work and infrequent bus services, means that for most who can afford one the private car is still the choice mode of transport.

The data from Transport Scotland for the period 30th August to 5th of September 2021 is as follows:

  • Walking journeys down by 40%
  • Cycling journeys up by 10%
  • Concessionary bus journeys down by 35%
  • Rail journeys down by 50%
  • Ferry journeys up by 10%
  • Air journeys down by 45%
  • Car journeys at the same level as the previous time period

These figures are prepared by Transport Scotland statisticians and compare actual journeys against a pre-pandemic baseline.

As important as road transport are our ferries linking us to the Scottish mainland and delivering visitors, islanders and goods to and from the islands.  The following figures for Northlink include those for both Orkney and Shetland.

NorthLink Passenger and Car volumes significantly increased in the period from week ending 28 May (22 May to 28 May) 2021 to week ending 2 July (26 June to 2 July), recording growth of 73% and 68% respectively.

Commercial Vehicles volumes also increased but to a lesser extent, with 2% growth over this period.

In week ending 2 July 2021, Passenger volumes on NorthLink ferries in the Northern Isles remained below levels recorded in the equivalent week in 2019, with a decline of – 19%, while Car volumes recorded modest growth of 1% and Commercial Vehicles recorded more significant growth of 11% (Covid19 Trends in Sub National Travel)

There is a long way to go with the provision of the infrastructure and behavioural change needed if we are going to make any real difference in our transport carbon emissions.

Fiona Grahame

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1 reply »

  1. That’s great news that we have £28.5 million towards an integrated energy model in Orkney.
    And a hundred folk have leased an electric car on the Island.
    If my sums are correct (which often they are not) if everyone on the Island got £20,000 each to implement some kind of energy saving technology into their homes. That would make a massive difference to a lot of folks lives as that is a lot of cash for most.
    And I think that would cost about 4 million.
    Now wouldn’t that be a thing.

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