Innovative Oxfordshire project gets green light for next phase
Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO), an ambitious and innovative smart grid project has passed a significant project review milestone and has been awarded an extension from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Project LEO now has the green light to undertake flexibility market trials across Oxfordshire to support the transition to a smart and low-carbon energy system.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), the Low Carbon Hub, the University of Oxford, and Oxford City and Oxfordshire County councils, alongside five other partners, are working together to replicate the electricity system of the future to support a cost-effective transition to net zero. Project LEO is examining how new competitive markets can be developed for low-carbon technologies, which support households, businesses and communities playing an active role in the energy system.
The £40 million project is regularly reviewed by UKRI to ensure it is continuing to offer value for money and delivering on its objectives. Following its latest review, UKRI has given the green light for Project LEO to proceed to the next phase. Project LEO demonstrated it had met UKRI’s objectives, which included an updated Detailed Project Plan, and the development of a comprehensive Trial Programme and new communications strategy. Project LEO was also awarded a 9-month extension to March 2023 to maximise what can be learned from its upcoming trials.
Project LEO’s next phase, the flexibility market trials, builds on the ambitious and innovative work over completed over the last few years to develop, test, and prepare a proof of concept. The upcoming flexibility market trials will launch in six areas in Oxfordshire later this year and are open to generators, energy storage owners and those who can tailor their energy demand. Generators and asset owners in the trial areas are invited to participate and can earn money for participating.
Mel Bryce, Oxfordshire Programme Director said:
“It is fantastic to see the hard work of Project LEO’s partners being recognised through the project extension. The next phase of LEO will help build a real-life understanding of how the electricity system of the future functions and the different interactions occurring between consumers and generators.
“Project LEO’s delivery of the electricity system of the future will play a key role in the transition to net zero. With more consumers and generators participating in decentralised energy and low carbon technologies, Project LEO is providing real learnings which can then be applied and replicated in other areas throughout the UK.”
Rob Saunders, Challenge Director, ‘Prospering from the Energy Revolution’, UK Research and Innovation said:
“The success of innovative smart local systems will be key to the UK’s transition to clean energy use, so it has been rewarding to see the projects we have supported, such as Project LEO, raise the bar on the industry’s progress towards these goals. We have been impressed by the Project LEO team’s development of their concept and their agile approach to testing and evaluating progress. Having undertaken our formal stage review, we were very happy to back the project to progress to its market trial stage, and will continue to support the team as they bring the concepts to life.”
Barbara Hammond MBE, CEO Low Carbon Hub, LEO project partner:
“We’re so pleased to see the project extension for Project LEO. This will give the partners more time to run valuable, real-world energy trials. Crucially, it will give us the chance to engage with more people and communities and work out how to best support them so that everyone can benefit from the transition to a zero carbon energy system.”