£40m project to lead energy innovation in Oxfordshire launches

We are really excited to announce the launch of Project LEO or ‘Local Energy Oxfordshire’ – a £40m three-year collaborative project that will change the energy system as we know it.

The project has been awarded £13.8m from the UK Government Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, managed by Innovate UK, and will be supported by £26m of private funding from the project partners.

To prevent runaway climate change we need to find a way to meet our energy needs whilst keeping fossil fuels in the ground. The drive for decarbonisation also provides us with the opportunity change the way individuals interact with our energy system, enabling people to stop being passive consumers and become active energy citizens.

Project LEO aims to show how we can meet Oxfordshire’s energy needs in a way that’s good for people and good for the planet. The three-year £40 million trial will work with individuals, communities and organisations from across the County to understand how we need to re-engineer the technology and markets that underpin our energy system to make this happen.

Through the project we will carry out real world projects and pilots across Oxfordshire that will:

  • increase local renewable energy generation, building on our existing 40+ clean energy projects
  • develop opportunities to better match our local energy supply to our local energy demand through increased storage capacity or shifting energy demand.
  • free up capacity within the existing electricity infrastructure through smarter and more efficient use of the energy we generate, in order to facilitate the shift to low carbon transport and heating
  • propose new business models that allow people to make active choices about how they buy and use energy
  • highlight the policy and regulatory changes that need to happen to enable individuals, organisations and communities to become active participants in the energy market and drive decarbonisation of the energy system.

Through this project we aim to reduce the County’s carbon footprint, keep more of the economic value created by the energy market in the local economy, and demonstrate a replicable model that can be used to transform the whole of the UK’s energy system. 

The project is led by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) with partners including the Low Carbon Hub, University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, marketplace operators Nuvve, Open Utility and Origami Energy and energy supplier EDF Energy.

Project LEO provides an amazing opportunity for us to play a leading role in developing the energy system of the future. One that is sustainable for our planet, will ensure the lights stay on when needed and, crucially, is beneficial for our communities.

Our work over the past eight years has demonstrated our commitment to building renewable energy projects across Oxfordshire with schools, businesses and communities and we’re so excited for this project to take that work to the next level working with excellent project partners who are expert in their fields.

Project LEO will enable us to further grow community-owned renewable energy in Oxfordshire, provide new investment opportunities for local people, and allow our communities to have more say in their energy choices.

The Low Carbon Hub is out to prove we can meet our energy needs in a way that’s good for people and good for the planet and this project will be big step in that journey.