Sustainable homes and an innovative microgrid in action

Hook Norton Community Land Trust (a Low Carbon Hub Community Group Member) have developed a community-led housing project that is in the process of building affordable, energy efficient homes for local people in the Oxfordshire village of Hook Norton.

The team are currently looking to raise £500,000 through a community share raise to complete the innovative housing project.

Six years ago Low Carbon Hub helped kickstart the project with a grant from OxFutures. This supported the development of a feasibility study and community engagement activity. Two people were employed on a part time basis to drive the project forward. And later Low Carbon Hub provided a small grant to create a video, interviewing local people to find out their views on the need for affordable and sustainable homes in the community.

Since then, and following seven consultation workshops with the community, the project has gone from strength to strength and is truly walking the walk in terms of tackling the climate, energy crises and the lack of affordable housing.

Sustainable housing solutions

The eco credentials of the project include:

  • The homes are built to Passivhaus thermal performance standards meaning they perform incredibly well in terms of energy use and will require very little heating.
  • The homes are constructed using closed timber frame panels, insulated with wood fibre, lime and hemp.
  • Rooftop solar PV panels will generate clean electricity and an on-site battery will store surplus renewable energy.
  • There are charging points for electric vehicles to encourage a switch to low carbon transport (as well as an EV car club).
  • A shared communal space with a garden and food-growing beds.

Microgrid innovation

There is also a innovative microgrid on the site – the first in the UK to be used at community level on a site of less than 30 homes.

By linking the 68kWp of solar PV panels on the rooftops of the new homes to an existing 50kWp solar array on the roof of the neighbouring Hook Norton Sports and Social Club a ‘pool’ of renewable energy is established that will power the homes and the electric vehicle charging points.

Residents will be able to purchase the power from SNRG Ltd (who designed the microgrid along with another Low Carbon group, Hook Norton Low Carbon) at a rate that will be lower than regular energy tariffs, saving them money on their energy bills. Any renewable energy not used will be stored in a  community battery on site that will allow the renewable energy generated to be used at times of peak demand.

Solar panels on the new buildings

A model for the future

This approach puts more (green) power in people’s hands. Residents are less reliant on energy from the national grid and all of the associate price hikes we’ve been plagued with recently and they will be benefitting from clean electricity produced right on their rooftops.