Oxford City Council agrees new loan of £2.3m to support growth of community energy in Oxfordshire

At a meeting of cabinet on 29 May 2019, Oxford City Council agreed to renew their offer of a revolving loan facility of £2.3m to Low Carbon Hub to support the build of more community energy projects in Oxfordshire.

The funds will enable the Low Carbon Hub to build more renewable energy projects across the county, including installing solar panels on school roofs. Projects that reduce school energy bills, cut their carbon emissions and provide a valuable educational tool for students.

This loan renewal follows on from a previous loan of £2.3m made to Low Carbon Hub that enabled us to build many of our existing community energy projects in 2016. This was fully repaid, with interest, as of March 2019. The Low Carbon Hub repaid the debt with investment raised through their latest community share offer, the Community Energy Fund, thereby bringing these projects into community ownership.

It can also be used to fund new energy projects and pilots through Project LEO, Local Energy Oxfordshire. This is a 3-year collaborative project, of which Oxford City Council and Low Carbon Hub are partners, that aims to demonstrate the energy system of the future.

Driven by a need to decarbonise our energy system, the project will work with individuals, communities and organisations from across Oxfordshire, to explore how they can re-engineer the technology and markets that underpin our energy system to make that happen. This loan funding will enable the Low Carbon Hub to build more local renewable energy generation to feed into the project as well as trial innovation projects such as how to better match local energy supply with demand through storage technologies. 

We’re so pleased that Oxford City Council has decided to continue its role of supporting the development of community energy in Oxfordshire. The opportunity is brilliantly clear as more community energy will help cut our county’s carbon emissions, support the local economy and demonstrate that Oxford is leading the way in tackling the climate emergency at a local level. We really look forward to working closely with the City Council as part of Project LEO and continuing this important work into the future.

Oxford City Council has played a crucial role in setting up and sustaining the Low Carbon Hub and we’re pleased to be providing our third loan, this time of £2.3millon. We’re proud to be supporting a social enterprise that’s out to prove we can meet our energy needs in a way that’s good for people and good for the planet. With the days of fossil fuels numbered, we need to accelerate the shift to renewable generation, and this financial support will ensure we do that in a way which puts energy and power in the hands of the people.