Increasing electrification of heat and transport and localised generation and storage (e.g. household PV and battery systems) are placing pressure on an electricity system initially designed for large, centralised electricity generation.
Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO) developed a new model for how local energy systems in Oxfordshire are managed and measured.
As one of four national demonstrator projects investigating smart, local energy systems, Project LEO, through energy flexibility and place-based trials in Oxfordshire, system balanced local demand with local supply in a real-world environment, helped test markets, informed investment models and assessed the benefits of flexibility to the energy system.
The project demonstrated the potential for individuals and communities to become active participants in future energy systems.
Across Oxfordshire County including Rosehill and Osney within the City.
Project LEO trials flexibility and local energy approaches that help accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon energy system and deliver social, economic, and environmental benefits in a sustainable and fair way to a wide range of stakeholders.
Potential benefits include:
- Freeing up space for more renewables and storage
- Reducing the need to invest in network and kit reinforcements and upgrades
- Creating new revenue streams for existing community scale renewable generation projects (e.g. local hydro or solar)
- Improving the financial viability of new community scale renewable projects
- Reducing energy bills for residents
- Creating opportunities for residents to decarbonise their heating and transport
- Widening the range of local energy strategies that communities and individuals can use to meet their needs based on their local situation. E.g. to use in conjunction with peer-to-peer electricity trading and energy efficiency initiatives
- Creating new business opportunities for community-run energy services that increase income and support carbon reduction
The project started in April 2019 and concluded in March 2023.
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Community is central to Project LEO, with place-based trials led by consortium member Low Carbon Hub actively seeking to understand how communities can be involved in a smart and flexible energy system of the future. Oxford City Council supported the Low Carbon Hub with two place based trials within Oxford – one in Rose Hill and one in Osney.
Across the project, stakeholder engagement was vital. Purposes for engagement included:
- Recruiting and supporting participation in trials
- Crowdsourcing information and co-creating plans
- Informing stakeholders about flexibility and SLES
- Inviting feedback on expectations for industry development
- Learning from others’ experiences in the area of SLES and flexibility
- Sharing project learning - Seeking feedback on processes of engagement
- Ensuring regulatory compliance
The project also directly supported the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change mandate from 2019: to drive carbon reductions faster than the national government rate.