Oxfordshire to pilot flexible local smart energy system


Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire) will explore how new technologies can best reduce costs for customers by utilising a local, responsive electricity grid with improved flexibility.

Technologies including local renewables, battery storage, electric vehicles (EV’s) and demand-side management will be explored.

The project, expected to run for three years, was granted £13.8 million by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as well as £26 million of private partner-funding.

Project LEO aims to replicate and trial demonstration system operator models being researched by the UK government, industry, and the country’s energy regulator via the Energy Networks Association’s Open Networks Project.

The trial will also look to balance real-world demand and supply, whilst testing markets and investment models in an effort to glen the benefits of increased flexibility.

The Oxfordshire council has already started energy-saving street lighting, waste reduction and solar school projects, which, along with the levels of constraint on the grid in the area, and the forward-thinking approach of both local authorities.

Project partners include Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) as project leaders, in partnership with the local city and county councils, the Universities of Oxford and Oxford Brookes, EDF Energy, Nuvve, Low Carbon Hub, Open Utility and Origami Energy.

The new project will support Oxfordshire’s target to reduce city-wide emissions by 40% by 2020, which means it must generate 58% of its electricity demand from renewable sources.

Councillor Tom Hayes, board member for a Cleaner and Greener Environment at Oxford City Council said: “Project LEO will return power to the people so that we can generate clean energy for our own neighbourhoods. By creating opportunities for communities to trade the energy they generate, use and store at a local level, we hope that Project LEO will empower people, companies and local areas to build an energy system that works for people and planet.”