Local energy oxfordshire – neighbourhood

We know that a zero-carbon energy system is possible if we can increase renewable generation, electrify our heating, and transport and improve the energy performance of our building stock. But we need to increase the pace and scale of the transformation to meet the country’s climate change objectives.

Building on the highly successful Project LEO, this project Local Energy Oxfordshire – Neighbourhood – (LEO-N) takes a systems innovation route to accelerating the pace of the transition by implementing an integrated approach:

  • To help consumers decarbonise their homes and businesses, we will create a new approach – FutureFit which takes a system level approach to the process of decarbonisation, helping identify the right measures for implementation, in the right order, at the right time to ensure that they work together to produce the best long-term outcome. The project will look at options for new funding and financing options to support the transition.
  • We will develop new tools to allow neighbourhoods and communities to trade and share energy.
  • We will engage closely with the electricity network to make best use of the capacity available and optimise future investment needs.

To deliver the change required, new institutional arrangements are proposed to facilitate and drive local delivery, develop new delivery mechanisms including innovative financing options, mobilise the supply chain and improve community level energy planning to integrate with wider City or County wide plans.

Building on the Smart and Fair Neighbourhood trial delivered in Project LEO, this new project will see community energy businesses, network operators and local authorities come together to create the enabling environment required to give everyone involved the confidence to make the changes required and take the opportunities necessary to achieve a just, fair and efficient transition to net zero.

If successful, this brings benefits to consumers, network customers and our planet, such as:

  • Lower energy bills * – and healthier, warmer homes;
  • Lower network costs * – and fewer disruptive upgrades;
  • And ultimately, a faster transition to the zero-carbon energy system we all need.

* Lower at the time of intervention, compared to costs without any intervention/action.

Key Activities

Project LEO-N addresses the: Accelerating decarbonisation of major energy demands challenge by developing an innovative approach to create an enabling environment for homes, businesses and communities to transition to net zero, at the pace and scale to deliver Oxfordshire’s targets. LEO-N will develop Smart and Fair Neighbourhoods from Project LEO which demonstrated flexibility services sitting at the heart of a smarter, locally balanced energy system. The proposal is framed around:

FutureFit – helping consumers decarbonise

The Low Carbon Hub’s existing Retrofit services, Cosy Homes Oxfordshire and Energy Solutions Oxfordshire (ESOX), will be developed into ‘FutureFit’ products, to identify a route for each home and business to be transformed into its own flexible energy system. FutureFit will see a new approach to identifying, installing, and funding a coordinated set of building fabric and smart technology options. Without this support, measures may be installed piecemeal, without proper integration reducing overall effectiveness.

Helping Communities Transition

FutureFit will be expanded to community level and beyond with local coordination enabling trading of flexibility and energy services in a Smart Community Energy System (SCES). LEON will identify options to allow this to be implemented across multiple communities to achieve a county-wide impact.

Impact on the future electricity network

Building on SSEN’s work in Project LEO, we will evaluate the network impact of large-scale implementation of FutureFit. A key innovation will be how behind the meter measures proposed can be optimised to maximise the use of the existing network and better inform future DNO investment.

New Institutional options for delivery and how nested local area energy planning can support the transition

We will build on the trial Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP) for Eynsham that showed how digital tools developed in Project LEO could be extended to do place-based, whole system energy planning from the street level up to the county level. An institutional architecture is necessary to manage actionable delivery strategies at speed and scale. We hypothesise ‘Local Net Zero Co-Ordinator’ and “SCES Service” roles to provide this.

This competition is delivered by Innovate UK in partnership with the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem). It is funded by the Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), which aims to deliver net zero at lowest cost to consumers and support innovative businesses to grow and scale. Competition name: Ofgem Round 2: Alpha – Accelerating decarbonisation of major energy demands

This project is in ‘Alpha’ Stage with funding until the end of March 2024. We hope to secure further funding to continue the project later in 2024.