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Oxford: Energy Superhub

Category: Environment
Published: 21 February 2023

Oxford City Council: Energy Superhub Oxford

The project

Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) is one of three national demonstrator projects part-funded by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) to showcase the benefits of smart, local energy systems. This is a collaboration between private and public sector organisations and has developed Europe’s most powerful electric vehicle charging hub, hybrid battery storage, low-carbon heating, and smart energy management.

To reflect the priorities set in in the city’s Climate Change Citizen Assembly, the council committed to improve air quality and realise a net-zero Oxford by 2040.

The value of the project is over £40 million, with £10.3 million government funding. The remaining £30 million was funded in collaboration between Pivot Power, Habitat Energy, Invinity, Kensa, Oxford University, and Oxford City Council.

The project will work to transform how people power their lives, from travelling to work to heating their homes. The project was realised from discussions at the first UK Electric Vehicle Summit convened by Oxford City Council in 2018 which brought together many businesses and other interested parties.

Pivot Power, now part of EDF Renewables, created the low carbon infrastructure. This includes the 50MWh lithium-ion battery and four-mile private wire. The novel battery system, the first of its type, delivers an innovative energy storage solution that can balance the intermittency of renewable energy. Oxford University worked with Invinity in its development.

The benefits

In 2021 the project supported migration of 40 of the council’s fleet vehicles to electric, supporting its target of 25% of its fleet to be net zero by 2023. With the additional electricity available, Kensa created a ground source heat pump network across 60 homes in a local social housing development.

The ESO charging hub at Redbridge Park & Ride in the south of the city was opened to the public in July 2022. It offers fast to ultra-rapid charging for 42 vehicles at once, all powered entirely by renewable energy. The site includes multiple chargepoint operators at one location and was designed to cater for a multitude of travel needs.

The EV hub and power network were designed with expansion and adaptation in mind. Moreover, it provides a blueprint for town and cities across the country to simultaneously scale up green transport, power and heating.

This will allow for strategic charging locations throughout Oxford to incorporate bus depots, taxis and commercial fleets. This has encouraged 26 taxi operators to purchase electric hackney carriages to make up 25% of the local fleet.

This further supports Oxford’s net zero 2040 target, as well as providing charging infrastructure for the pilot Zero Emission Zone – a first-of-its-kind scheme that applies fees to any non-electric vehicle entering the central zone. The zone, introduced in 2022, will expand over time to cover the city by 2035 in line with the government’s timetable to stop the sale of fossil fuel vehicle purchase.

Collectively the project unlocks significant emissions reductions across power, heat and transport – saving 10,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, equivalent to taking over 2,000 cars off the road, increasing to 25,000 tonnes by 2032.

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