An innovative new Green energy superhub project, that will see “batteries the size of shipping containers” built, has been launched in Oxford, to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality in the city.
It’s been awarded more than £20m from the government, and will see Oxford compete to become the UK’s first zero emissions city.
As well as the batteries, the project will include electric vehicle charging stations and heat pumps, that will be rolled out across the city in an effort to power large fleets of electric vehicles and provide low cost carbon heating to homes.
Through the pioneering use of artificial intelligence and “intelligent trading” software, the energy in the batteries will be able to be sold to the grid when demand gets higher.
The same software will power 320 heat pumps, which will be used in social housing.
The software will operate the pumps at times when prices are lower, which will drive bills and usage down.
The batteries will power 4500 rapid electric vehicle charging points, that will electrify the council’s fleet of buses, taxis and bin lorries.
Some 90 other projects across the city, including local solar and hydro energy power, will help supply the energy for the batteries.
They will also create a local energy grid, and will enable “peer-to-peer” trading, meaning people can trade off excess energy to their neighbours, decentralising the need for energy.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said the project “has the potential to completely change the way people go about their daily lives – from going to work on an electric bus to using the heat rising from the earth to heat your home without gas”.
Oxford City Councillor Tom Hayes told Sky News: “The difference this will make for the average person living in Oxford is huge.”
“People are going to be able to breathe cleaner air, they’re going to see a more regular service on their roads and they’re going to be seeing electric vehicles that are zero emitting.”
“This is a game changer for Oxford.”
Energy minister Claire Perry said: “Backed by government funding, this has the potential to completely change the way people go about their daily lives – from going to work on an electric bus to using the heat rising from the earth to heat your home without gas.”
Speaking to Sky News, Dr Barbara Hammond, the Chief Executive of the Low Carbon Hub, said: “This project in Oxford is the first stage in turning our energy system completely upside down, so that we move away from great big power stations… to tying together all the little renewable energy generators”.
“Everybody has to be fully involved in this, in a way that turns them from being consumers to being proper energy citizens.”
Suzanne and David Jeffrey from the city, already generate a third of their own energy using solar panels and a heat pump.
They believe the funding will help them store excess energy in the summer months and trade it with their neighbours.
Mrs Jeffrey says: “Having the opportunity to transfer the electricity that’s generated either by me or by my neighbours rather than being reliant on large plants that are miles away down the road using fossil fuels is really exciting.”
“It’s an opportunity to explore how the local community can generate enough energy for us all to use”.