Our first local authority rooftop solar PV array
Ashhurst Way is a new block of flats in Rose Hill, Oxford. They are owned by Oxford City Council and were built by Oxford City Housing Ltd (OCHL). The Low Carbon Hub agreed prior to construction to purchase the completed rooftop solar PV system of 107 panels that will generate 35,284 kwh clean electricity annually.
This project has been in the pipeline since approximately 2019 and it’s great to see the project come fully online in February 2022.
We worked closely with the teams at Oxford City Council and OCHL throughout the build to ensure the installation of the solar array went smoothly.
Low Carbon Hub reached an agreement to acquire the solar panel installation from the City Council using the Community Energy Fund and funding from Project LEO, a large energy innovation project looking to accelerate the transition to a net zero energy system (more below). This partnership with the City Council will enable the array to both be used for research in Project LEO and also to be operated by Low Carbon Hub for the benefit of tenants and the wider community over it’s lifetime.
The clean electricity generated by the panels goes into the landlords (the City Council) supply to power the communal areas such as hallway lighting. The rest of the energy not used is sold into the National Grid, with all surplus going towards community benefit, funding more community action on climate change.
At the same time, another block of flats was built at The Oval in Rose Hill with solar panels installed on the roof. Low Carbon Hub has a lease in place with Oxford City Council to maintain these panels, but they aren’t community owned.
Rose Hill in Oxford is already home to several solar installations including our rooftop solar array at Rose Hill Primary School (where we also have a battery on site), a City Council owned array at the community centre and several council and privately-owned domestic properties in the area. It’s fantastic to increase the amount of clean, renewable energy being produced in the area with the installation of these panels at Ashhurst Way.
The Rose Hill community has fantastic zero carbon ambitions. It’s been exciting to see the part we can play in helping them achieve that aimTom Heel, Business Development Director.
An innovation hot spot
This is the Low Carbon Hub’s first ever project working with a local authority to install a solar PV array on domestic properties. It resulted in us developing two new business models across the two sites. This was also one of the earliest sites developed by Oxford City Housing Ltd who have a strong commitment to carbon reduction in their buildings.
This site has a strong fabric first approach with highly enhanced building insulation and air tightness standards -U-values (as the measure of heat loss from a building) of 0.15 for external walls, 0.11 for roof and floor and air tightness of 4.5, which far exceed the required standard by Building Regulations. They also maximise solar PV panels on the roof, meaning that the new homes go 62% beyond carbon reduction requirements of 2013 Building Regulations.
The flats are forming part of Project LEO’s Smart and Fair Neighbourhood trials, looking at how a smart, locally balanced energy system can have benefits for all. In the Rose Hill flats we are testing an innovating way for housing tenants to benefit from the solar PV on the roof of their flats, without directly owning the panels themselves or directly receiving the energy they generate. This ‘solar saver’ offer is testing whether residents could save money on their energy bills by shifting their energy use to match times of peak generation. Find out more about the trial here.
OCHL are proud to have worked with the Low Carbon Hub on this ground breaking research project. We hope that the Solar Savers project will provide a way for residents of flats to benefit from the solar panels on the roof and to live a more sustainable lifestyle.Helen Horne, Managing Director, OCHL