March 2020 was the month that we reopened our Community Energy Fund for new investment, raising just over £1.5 million and welcoming 417 new investors. This was our largest-ever round of investment, and we were thrilled with the response especially given the uncertain backdrop of the pandemic. In our most recent round of
the Community Energy Fund we have been able to offer a new minimum investment of £100 for the first time due to reducing administrative costs by going paperless with our new investor portals, making positive investing accessible to more people.

It was also been a record-breaking year for our existing portfolio of renewable energy installations. We generated 3.1 GWh of renewable energy from our solar rooftops and 1.2 GWh from Sandford Hydro – both of which represent our highest-ever annual generation figures. This year’s generation brings our lifetime renewable generation to 18.1 GWh. Planned improvements at Sandford Hydro (power factor improvements, gate automation, variable speed drive work) mean that there’s potential for the hydro’s generation to increase further in coming years.

Another first, was the installation of our first community-owned battery at Rose Hill Primary School, enabling renewable energy to be stored. The battery, along with our generation installations, is sitting at the heart of Minimum Viable System (MVS) trials as part of Project LEO, allowing the project team to test different aspects of the smart, local zero carbon energy system of the future and thoroughly understand what does and does not work.

This year has also seen the launch of Energy Solutions Oxfordshire (ESOx), an energy efficiency service aiming to make it simple and cost effective for every business and organisation to stop wasting energy in their premises and in the process helping to tackle climate change. We’ve partnered with the Environmental Information Exchange team at Oxford Brookes University to deliver this service, continuing the team’s success with OxFutures.