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Osney Supercharge

Osney Island’s Smart and Fair Neighbourhood Trial

A group of households and businesses on Osney Island have signed up with Project LEO to generate and store their own electricity. They will share data on how this reduces demand on the local distribution network. We will also work with residents to understand the impacts and opportunities for small dense urban environments to make the switch to electric vehicles (EVs).  Our local project is called Osney Supercharge.

We are 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.


The UK has to respond to the threat of climate change. In the next few decades gas and petrol will be phased out. There will be a huge shift to using electric cars, and heating homes and businesses with heat pumps. This will create increased demand and stress on the local electricity network, which may not be able to cope. So, we need to find ways to generate electricity at community level, and to spread use of power throughout the day to help the network handle this new level of demand.

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 (EVs). 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, solar PV generation combined with 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.

Properties taking part in Osney Supercharge are having solar PV roof panels installed, along with batteries to store the power these generate. The project will collect data on how much power each property generates and uses. It will work out the impact this has on reducing demand on the network.

Households will either pay for the kit themselves, or Low Carbon Hub (a Project LEO partner) will own the kit and sell the electricity it generates back to the homeowner.

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…

  • The electricity consumption profile for the island is known and opportunities for flexibility services and/or Osney Lock Hydro 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 for their homes and transport and are therefore more able to influence how that happens.
  • 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 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.
  • The Environment Agency’s electric fleet to be powered using green electricity from the hydro.

Are you an Osney Resident?

If you live on the Island and would like to get more involved in the transition to a net zero energy system, here are some places to start:

Renewable energy and improving the energy efficiency of your home.
Did you know that at least 14 % of UK carbon emissions are from our homes?
Improving the energy performance of our homes will not only cut our carbon emissions, but also make them healthier and more comfortable to live in. See Cosy Homes Oxfordshire for how their team can help. You can start by using their free online Plan Builder to see what’s possible for your home.

Help us collect data
If you go ahead and install solar PV panels on your home, you may be able to contribute to the Project LEO data collection.

Also, even if you don’t have solar panels, if your home has a SMET2 meter (smart meter) you may be able to help us collect data on your energy use.

If you have any questions about the project, including potential to be involved, contact Simon.

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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