Oxford Brookes University collaborates with partners to launch a pioneering smart energy system for Oxfordshire

Thursday, 04 April 2019

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Professor Rajat Gupta, Director of the Low Carbon Building Research Group and the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development, is to work with a range of partners, to launch a new research initiative on smart local energy systems - Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire).

The partners, including the University of Oxford, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, have been selected by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) to develop the £40 million project, which will test electricity network flexibility models and markets across Oxfordshire. The initiative which is expected to run for 3 years, has received an award of £13.8m from the UK Government Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund through Innovate UK.

In an industry-first, Project LEO will explore how the growth in local renewables, electric vehicles (EVs), battery storage, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology and energy demand management, can be supported by a local, flexible, and responsive electricity grid. The aim is to ensure value for consumers and opportunities for communities and market providers.   

Project LEO is intended to be one of the most wide-ranging and holistic smart grid trials ever conducted in the UK.

Professor Gupta, who is Oxford Brookes’ Principal Investigator for the initiative commented:  

“We are very excited to be part of this ground-breaking project on smart local energy systems in Oxfordshire. Project LEO will usher in new and radical thinking on developing value streams from distributed energy resources using local flexibility markets. LEO builds strongly on our recent award-winning research (project ERIC) that demonstrated how distributed generation and smart home batteries, can be managed to reduce peak grid load and increase self-consumption of local generated electricity.We are really pleased to be collaborating with leading experts to help inform the energy system of the future”

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “We are at the start of a green revolution as we move to more digital, data-driven smart systems that will bring us cleaner and cheaper energy. These projects, backed by government funding, are set to spark a transformation and change the way we interact with energy for the better as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.

“We’re excited to see how these businesses and project partners reveal how innovative tech, such as energy storage, heat networks and electric vehicles, can set us on the path to a smarter energy future. This is tomorrow’s world, today.”

Oxfordshire county was chosen for the project location, because of the levels of constraint on the electricity network in the area, the active and developed community energy partners and the progressive approach of both local authorities. Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council will provide key infrastructure and local investment projects, including intelligent street lighting, EV infrastructure and responsive heat networks.

The project aims to replicate and trial aspects of the Distribution System Operator (DSO) models being explored by industry, government and the energy regulator, via the Energy Networks Associations Open Networks Project. It will balance local demand with local supply in a real-world environment, helping to test markets, inform investment models and, ultimately, assess the benefits of flexibility to the energy system. Piclo with Origami and EDF Energy will develop and deploy market platforms for local energy trading and services provision, including smart charging platform with Nuvve.