Our Hub highlights of 2021: Programmes

As 2021 comes to a close, we wanted to reflect on our Hub highlights of the year for our key programmes.

Project LEO

Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire) is an ambitious, wide-ranging and innovative trial, seeking to accelerate the UK’s transition to a zero-carbon energy system. This year the 10 partner consortium made some great strides in achieving a variety of Project LEO goals.

Development of Smart and Fair Neighbourhoods

Our Smart and Fair Neighbourhood (SFN) trials – part of Project LEO – will demonstrate how flexibility services can sit at the heart of a smarter, low carbon, locally balanced energy system. 

We are working with five local communities to trial different flexibility services. We will explore how smart technology and new commercial models can create opportunities in a local energy marketplace and help us to understand how to do this in an equitable and fair way for everyone. This year we have brought the project groups together, set out our strategy for each one and launched them into action.

developing the COMPANs concept

In October, we published a report as part of Project LEO that introduced the Community of MPANs concept. This will attempt to grow our knowledge about how we can all be part of the net zero energy transition, working together to benefit from the transition. The concept is being developed and tested using exemplar households and places in Oxfordshire. 

The paper describes the Community of MPANs concept, what we expect the benefits of implementing it to be, the exemplar places where trials will run, what services and products will form part of the trials and what the learning outcomes are that we expect to get from the trials. 

Project LEO website launches

Back in the summer the new Project LEO website launched. Our goal with this new website was to better tell our story, showcase the project case studies in a more accessible way, and better explain what flexibility services are and how they can benefit people and communities. We also wanted to illustrate and explain the wide-reaching scope and impact of Project LEO.

More Project LEO highlights

Energy Solutions Oxfordshire (ESOx)

Energy Solutions Oxfordshire (ESOx) is a one-stop service, making it simple for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Oxfordshire to undertake energy efficiency improvements to make assured savings on their energy bills, reduce their carbon emissions, and improve the comfort of their buildings for staff or customers. 

First contracts signed

This year the first contracts have been signed within the ESOx programme – we are excited to see what work develops for these businesses.

Recognised as an ‘award winning’ approach

Earlier this year Energy Solutions Oxfordshire was recognised as an award winning approach by the Energy Pathfinders award for the ESCO in a box toolkit.

More ESOx highlights

  • The ESOx model has already been franchised in two other locations
  • We have collected lots of insights into what works and doesn’t in the energy efficiency area

OxFutures

OxFutures is a £4.2m project to boost low carbon economic development in Oxfordshire. The programme offers free energy audits to SMEs in Oxfordshire to identify energy saving opportunities, to reduce energy bills and cut carbon emissions. Grants are available to part-funded the implementation of the measures recommended by the audit. It also supported innovation by encouraging knowledge sharing between academics, local authorities and SMEs and providing grant support for new low-carbon start-ups, and those developing new low-carbon products and technologies.

More businesses signed up for energy audits

16 new businesses have signed up for and received free energy audits as part of the OxFutures project.

Energy efficiency Grant funding awarded

Lots of grant funding has been awarded over the year to a variety of energy efficiency projects to cover some of the costs of installing energy efficiency measures.

In June, three organisations successfully applied for funding worth almost £12,000:

  • Magdalen Road Studios (Oxford) – They will be using their grant funding to install radiant heaters with occupy sensors, LEDs with motion sensors, wall insulation and a new wall as well as a doubled-glazed window to replace some roller shutter doors.
  • Torch Box (Charlbury) – A digital product agency, specialising in working with non-profits. They will be using their grant funding to install some PolyPad insulation for ceiling.
  • Primary Designs (Thame) – Primary Designs will be using the grant funding to install some LED lighting into their building.

And in December, four organisations successfully applied for funding worth over £4,000:

  • Ewelme Watercress Beds – The organisation has been awarded a grant to install solar panels on their south-west facing roof.
  • Petrospot Ltd – They will be using their grant funding to install two 22kw EV charging points. The charging point will be installed by OxFutures innovation grant recipient EV Carshop.
  • Farmer Gow’s Ltd – They will be using their grant funding to add timers to hot water tanks, and upgrade lighting to LEDs for the office, kitchen, shop, special needs toilets and picnic barn.
  • Begbrook Village Hall – They will be using their grant funding to install loft insulation into their roof, reducing the heat loss of the building and making it much more comfortable for users as well as saving money!

Innovation Grant funding awarded

In June, Greencore Construction (Abingdon) were awarded innovation funding worth £17,500 to help develop a prototype of a low embodied carbon kitchen for Passivhaus.

Cosy Homes Oxfordshire

Cosy Homes Oxfordshire is a home eco-retrofit project that launched in early 2019 to help make homes across Oxfordshire more energy efficient – reducing their energy demand – and at the same time improving the comfort and health of residents. 

information exchange success

The information exchange online call showed how innovative the service is nationally and that it is possible for similar programmes to work in other areas.

multiple projects completed

This year, nearly 10 projects have been completed over the lifetime of the project. Homes across Oxfordshire have been upgraded to reduce carbon emissions and make them healthier and cosier for their residents, including:

Consistently delivering retrofits

By delivering new retrofits every month and moving to break even operationally Cosy Homes Oxfordshire has been able to show that the whole house approach works in practice.

As you can see from these select highlights, it’s been a busy year for the programmes of the Low Carbon Hub and for community energy in Oxfordshire.

As ever, it’s important to say that we couldn’t achieve any of this without your support as partners, investors, advocates, and friends. So at the end of 2021 we want to say a huge thank you for your continuing support.

Read next…

  • News story

    Community Group of the Month: Sustainable Charlbury

    28 November 2022
    We are delighted that Sustainable Charlbury is our community group of the month for November / December 2022. Sustainable Charlbury began in 2008 as a Community Interest Company, with the aim of addressing the big challenges the planet faces at a local level. The group is run by a small, dedicated team who work closely…