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Osney Island

Smart and Fair Neighbourhood Trial

The Osney Island SFN trial aims to understand the impacts and opportunities for small dense urban environments to make the switch to electric vehicles (EVs).

It is also looking into ways to improve local renewable generation at Osney Lock Hydro (OLH) and the potential opportunities a local hydro scheme can have in providing flexibility services to the network.


Osney Island is a small neighbourhood in West Oxford. It includes a 50kW hydro generation scheme, with an associated 9kW solar installation, owned by Osney Lock Hydro Limited, a community benefit company. There are also solar installations on Osney rooftops and nearby at the community centre and on the university estate. The local community has a high level of interest and engagement with energy.

A number of island residents are interested in contributing to the energy transition by changing to electric vehicles. This is likely to include making space for EVs in dense urban environments, both in terms of capacity on the network and in terms of physical space on the street.

We will address issues of equity as some people may not be able to participate in the trial such as those renting or unable to buy an EV. We will look at solutions like car clubs as a potential solution to this.

Aims of the trial

There are three broad objectives for the project:

  1. To examine the opportunity for, and benefits of, battery storage and electric vehicle charging within the Osney electricity system.
  2. To maximise the renewable electricity generated by the hydro scheme and its use locally including powering the electric vehicle fleet at the Environment Agency (who have their depot on Osney).
  3. To give residents access to an electric vehicle and explore how the experience of using that vehicle informs residents’ preference for electric vehicle adoption.

The vision is for Osney’s electric fleet, including residents’ vehicles, car club vehicles and the Environment Agency’s depot fleet, to be powered by the Osney Lock Hydro. By aspiring to achieve this, we hope to give rise (at least in part) to:

  • Easy, affordable access to an electric vehicle for residents
  • An informed basis for shaping future activities relating to electric vehicle adoption that reflects the interests and experience of residents
  • A zero carbon, secure and resilient, and affordable local energy system
  • Using local renewable generation to power electric vehicle charging on Osney Island
  • Demonstrating and/or improving the viability of investing in local renewable energy, storage and electric vehicle charging in order that more of this can happen elsewhere.

What we hope to achieve?

By the end of the project, we hope that…

  • Osney Lock Hydro’s generation is increased by implementing automation at the weir
  • An outline business case for a battery storage asset within the Osney substation network has been assessed.
  • The Environment Agency’s electric fleet to be powered using green electricity from the hydro
  • The electricity consumption profile for the island is known and opportunities for flexibility services and/or OLH supply to residents assessed and taken forward if appropriate.
  • Osney residents have greater understanding of the options and implications of the different ways that they as individuals, and collectively, can move to zero emissions mobility and are therefore more able to influence how that happens.
  • The community has trialled different electric vehicles and ways of access/owning them including e-bikes.
  • The views of residents after trialling the use of electric vehicles have been captured in order to inform future activities.
  • Residents electric vehicles (privately owned or a car club) are powered by local renewable energy or steps to achieve this have been identified.

Who is involved?

Members of Osney Island Residents Association and Osney Lock Hydro Community Benefit Society are working closely with the Low Carbon Hub to plan and implement the trial.

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