In January 2019, Oxford City Council unanimously declared a climate emergency in Oxford and agreed to create a Citizens’ Assembly to help consider new carbon targets and additional measures to reduce emissions in the city. As a result, Oxford aims to become a net-zero carbon emitter by 2030, a full 20 years ahead of the UK national target. In addition, Oxford City Council pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in its own operations by the end of 2020, after the Citizens’ Assembly requested such a move. Oxford City Council is a member of Low Carbon Oxford, a network of 40 public and private organisations that aimed to reduce city-wide emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2020. Oxford also is part of the UK100, a network of local government leaders who have pledged to shift to 100% clean energy by 2050.

To decarbonise energy in transport and heat systems (the major sources of carbon emissions in Oxford) and to achieve the 40% emission reduction, the City Council has facilitated an energy storage project, the Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO). It expected to be the world’s largest hybrid energy storage system, with a 50 MW grid-scale batteryi that will support a 10-kilometre network of EV charging points and ground-source heat pumps for around 300 households.

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The ESO project, which started construction in 2020, will help reduce 20,000 tonnes of CO2 annually by 2021 and 44,000 tonnes of CO2 annually by 2032. The project will be capable of integrating multiple sources of energy to manage energy demand, including renewables. Because Oxford is part of the UK100 network, by 2050 the ESO is to run entirely on renewable energy.

The GBP 41 million (USD 53.8 million) project will help accelerate the use of electric vehicles in Oxford, by providing charging points powered by the spare capacity of the battery to City Council depots and key businesses including local bus companies, taxi providers and commercial fleet depots. The project also aims to develop the first rapid charging hub in Oxford, making available around 20 ultra-rapid EV chargers for public use. Charging speeds will range between 10 and 30 minutes.

The project scope also includes a “Trial before you buy” programme by the City Council for taxi drivers in Oxford. This will help the taxis transition from 100% diesel to 100% electric by 2025. In total, the ESO pilot project will last for 36 months; once successful, the technology is to be expanded to up to 44 other sites across the United Kingdom.

Source: See endnote 248 in the Markets and Infrastructure chapter.

iThe battery, connected to the Cowley sub-station in Blackberry Lane, South Oxford, will store and deliver electricity (including renewable electricity) to electricity suppliers and help balance the local requirements for the grid. Electricity will be stored at times of low demand and then resupplied back to the grid when demand peaks. The technology is capable of shifting demand to periods of low prices, minimising consumers’ energy bills and overcoming local network constraints.i