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University announces involvement in 'Oxford Energy Superhub’ and ‘Local Energy Oxfordshire’ projects

Projects aim to reduce emissions and improve public health by accelerating move to electric vehicles and decarbonised heating

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Demonstrator projects will aim to prove that smarter local energy systems can deliver cleaner and cheaper energy services

The Department of Engineering Science is leading Oxford University’s involvement in two of four UK smart energy systems demonstrator projects announced this week by Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry.

She 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.”

Professors David Howey and Malcolm McCulloch in the Department of Engineering Science are leading the University’s involvement in two of the demonstrator projects:

  • Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO), led by Pivot Power LLP; and
  • Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO), led by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks.

These demonstrators will show how businesses can develop local energy approaches at scale that will create better outcomes for consumers and promote economic growth for the UK. By the early 2020s, they aim to prove that smarter local energy systems can deliver cleaner and cheaper energy services.

The £41m world-first Energy Superhub will be built in Oxford, making it a model for cities around the world to cut carbon and improve air quality. The project will use innovative new battery technology and aims to decarbonise both heat and transport, supporting Oxford City Council in its journey to zero carbon. The University’s Department of Engineering Science and Environmental Change Institute will participate in the project and produce recommendations that will support the rollout of similar initiatives elsewhere in the UK, and around the world. Other consortium partners are Oxford City Council, Pivot Power, Habitat Energy, Kensa Contracting and redT energy.


Professor David Howey, the University lead for the project, says, “We are delighted we are able to use our battery technology expertise to be involved in such a forward-thinking project right on our doorstep, which really could make a step change impact on transport and energy systems, both locally and further afield”.



The £40m Project Local Energy Oxfordshire, led by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), is one of the most wide-ranging and comprehensive smart grid trials ever conducted in the UK. It will explore how the growth in local renewables, electric vehicles (EVs), battery storage, and demand side response can be supported by a local, flexible, and responsive electricity grid unlocking new opportunities for consumers and market providers. Department of Engineering Science researchers will work closely with Oxford Brookes University and Oxfordshire County Council, focussing on stakeholder engagement, system evaluation and future system planning. The work will investigate and establish the required processes to collect, store and process information regarding multi-vector energy services and user involvement which is required to successfully operate a smart flexible local energy system.

Professor Malcolm McCulloch, the University lead for the project, says, “We are excited that this revolutionary project is happening in the UK. It will lead the world in developing new value streams from local energy assets using local markets. This project will transform new thinking in the future of energy systems to a reality and will crystallise large scale investment. This will enable a significant deployment of clean energy resources in Oxfordshire and enable end users to have a lower cost, secure energy supply.”


The funding is awarded competitively by UK Research and Innovation, the new organisation that brings together the UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England into a single organisation. For more detail on each of the projects see the UKRI and Oxford City Council press releases.

Aerial view of St Aldates and High Street in Oxford
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Sandford Hydro plant image by Scot Wheeler

Sandford Lock hydroelectric plant, Oxfordshire

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Westmill Solar cooperative, Oxfordshire