The Western Isles and Skye are some of the first places in Great Britain being used to test what will be the biggest change in how electricity is distributed in over 100 years.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) plans to use local generators on the islands as key parts of the modern electricity grid of the future.

Now, if there’s a fault or planned maintenance work on the network, SSEN sometimes needs to use diesel generation to keep the lights on. This new project will see medium to large sized wind and hydro stations opting in to being paid to provide power instead.

At present, because of the time taken to power up diesel generation, local producers are actually paid to turn off their generators as their supplies cannot be integrated into the grid in that situation. 

This new approach means it can be more cost-effective to pay local generators to export during certain times and conditions or for local businesses to reduce their consumption, helping keep costs down for customers.

This initiative in the Western Isles and Skye will be a significant step in developing the flexible electricity network of the future.   SSEN is now working with Piclo, the independent marketplace for buying and selling smart grid flexibility services, to encourage businesses in the Western Isles and Skye to take part.

Stewart Reid, Head of Future Networks at SSEN, said: “This first procurement exercise in the Western Isles and Skye is a significant step in delivering proactive flexibility and is one of the biggest to date in Scotland.  It will play a vitally important role in supporting the UK deliver its low-carbon ambitions.

“We are committed to considering flexible options where it is more cost effective than traditional network reinforcement, unlocking new opportunities for local flexibility providers and helping keep costs down for customers.

“We hope a range of local businesses, energy storage, and embedded generation take part in this exciting project.”

SSEN is committed to testing the market and comparing what flexibility services and their cost with building new energy infrastructure, in order to deliver the best value for billpayers. Interested businesses can register at