First EVs for Oxford’s integrated low-carbon solution

Oxford City Council has taken delivery of its first electric vehicles (EVs) as part of Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO), a world-first project showcasing an integrated approach to decarbonising power, heat and transport across the city.

Oxford City Council’s wholly-owned company, ODS, which operates like a social enterprise, has added six new EVs to its current fleet, with a further 27 (including cars, a street sweeper, excavator, and mix of different sized vans) due to be delivered over the next 3-4 months. It aims to electrify 25 per cent of its 330 fleet by 2023.

Users of the current vehicles have reacted extremely positively and enjoy driving them which has led to buy in from numerous other ODS staff wishing to be part of the trials for new vehicles coming onto the fleet. Part of the support to these employees will be to provide home charging facilities where required.

The vehicles have been funded by ESO, a three-year £41m project announced last year which has received £10m from the government’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution Challenge.

The project is led by Oxford City Council and Pivot Power (an EDF Renewables UK company) and includes Habitat Energy, Invinity Energy Systems (previously redT energy), Kensa Contracting and the University of Oxford.

The project is allowing the Council to evaluate its existing fleet and assess its strategy for electrification based on usage, range, emissions, costs and suitable electric replacement.

To kickstart the city’s switch to EVs, Pivot Power is installing the world’s most powerful charging network, delivering up to 25MW of power via an 8km private wire network around the south of Oxford. This network will connect public charging facilities at Redbridge Park & Ride directly to National Grid’s high voltage transmission network. It has capacity to expand with EV adoption and provide power for local businesses seeking to electrify their fleets, from logistics companies to bus operators.

Pivot Power is also developing the world’s largest ever hybrid energy storage system, comprising a 50MW lithium-ion battery and a 2MW vanadium redox flow battery, supplied by Invinity Energy Systems, which will share the grid connection with the private wire network. This hybrid system will combine the high-power capabilities of a lithium-ion battery with the heavy cycling, non-degrading characteristics of vanadium redox flow technology to create an innovative solution which will meet the complex demands of multiple energy applications.

Habitat Energy’s machine learning technology will optimise the system and help balance the grid by enabling greater use of clean, renewable energy sources, while carrying out trading on the day ahead, intraday and balancing mechanism markets. It will also predict overall demand on the private wire network to support the management of future fleet charging.

Tim Rose, ESO Programme Manager, Pivot Power commented: “Pivot Power’s purpose is to accelerate the UK’s transition to a clean, electric future. The smart power network we are installing in Oxford will deliver flexible, reliable power at scale to fast-track EV adoption. As part of EDF Renewables UK, our aim is to replicate this model throughout the UK, supporting greater renewable generation and delivering power where and when it is needed to enable mass-scale, rapid electric vehicle charging.”

ESO is also enabling Oxford residents to benefit from low carbon heating solutions. The project is supporting the installation of Kensa Contracting’s low-carbon heating solution which combines ‘shoebox’ ground source heat pumps with smart controls and a time of use tariff to optimise heat production for cost and carbon savings.

The first 60 properties will be installed with affordable housing provider Stonewater in Blackbird Leys with work due to start as soon as possible. ESO aims to roll out this technology to 300 properties in and around Oxford over the next two years.

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