Project LEO passes second Innovate UK Milestone

Allowing project to progress to next stage of delivering a smarter energy system in Oxfordshire

 Testing demand side response at the University of Oxford’s Sackler Library Building (Year 1 Trial, Project LEO)

Testing demand side response at the University of Oxford’s Sackler Library Building (Year 1 Trial, Project LEO)

Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire) brings together significant local, academic and industry experience and expertise, to undertake one of the most wide-ranging and holistic 'smart grid trials' ever conducted in the UK. The £40m project, led by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), is trialling how renewable energy technologies such as hydro, wind and solar, can be enabled to contribute flexibly to meeting electricity demand at a local level.

In the first of its three years, project partners have designed and developed trials that allow the controlled management and monitoring of specific low-carbon technologies’ impact on the electricity network and how they can contribute to the network during, for example, periods of peak demand. The flexibility trials that have been completed so far, tested a range of scenarios that the UK will likely experience in the transition to a smarter electricity system.

The trials conducted in Year 1 utilised assets situated in Oxfordshire and included: the Oxford Bus Company battery (testing electrical storage), Sandford Hydro Lock (as a flexible generation asset) and the University’s Sackler Library Building (testing demand side response, pictured).

These trials will continue to be developed throughout the project, in an increasingly large and more complex fashion. Year 1 trials have been conducted using the Lean Ecosystem Transition / Minimum Viable System (MVS) approach, developed and led by Professor Malcolm McCulloch and Dr Scot Wheeler of the University of Oxford's Energy and Power Group, which provides a fast, agile and iterative framework to develop new services and systems, along with the associated business models capable of disrupting existing markets and unlocking new value potential.

Department of Engineering Science researchers, led by Principal Investigator Professor Malcolm McCulloch, are working closely with Project Partners (including Dr Sarah Darby and Dr Nicholas Banks of the Environmental Change Institute) to identify and develop the next phase of MVS trials to be undertaken in Year 2 of the project, whilst establishing the required processes to collect, store and process project data regarding multi-vector energy services and user involvement which is required to successfully operate a smart flexible local energy system.

Following an assessment of the first year of the project, Innovate UK announced in May that LEO’s project partners have successfully demonstrated strong progress, evidenced through a comprehensive assessment submission for the first year. Passing this assessment allows Project LEO to go on to develop larger energy trials, building on its learning. The project is aiming to develop the tools to support the development of a local energy market in Oxfordshire and a model that can be replicated in other parts of the country.

Department of Engineering Science researchers involved in Project LEO include: Professors Malcolm McCulloch, David Wallom and Paul Goulart, supported by a team of Research Associates including Dr Scot Wheeler, Dr Avinash Vijay, Dr Masao Ashtine and Dr Fillippo Fabiani. For more information on the project please visit the project website or contact the Energy & Power Group's Senior Research Manager, Vicky Grant.