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Oxford Energy Superhub hits milestone as first EVs arrive at ‘pioneering’ project

Image: Oxford Energy Superhub.

Image: Oxford Energy Superhub.

The first electric vehicles (EV) for the Oxford Energy Superhub have arrive, marking an important milestone for the "pioneering" project.

The Superhub will include a switch to EVs for council-owned ODS vehicles, a ‘Try before you buy’ scheme for Oxford’s Hackney Carriage drivers, a new charging network and hub of public chargers and the world’s largest hybrid battery energy storage system.

Six of the 33 EVs involved in the project have now been delivered to Oxford City Council. The rest of the EVs, which will include cars, a street sweeper, excavator and mix of different sized vans, will be delivered over the next three to four months. This is ahead of the council electrifying 25% of its 330-strong fleet by 2023.

The ‘Try before you buy’ scheme has been set up with Electric Blue to help encourage taxi drivers to switch to EVs. Drivers will be able to trial an all-electric Nissan Dynamo or an LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company) for a two or four-week period.

It is hoped this will convince drivers to make the switch to electric. From 2025, taxi drivers will only be able to get a license if they have an EV to further accelerate the switch.

Together with the EV push, battery storage company Pivot Power is to create what it claims will be the world’s most powerful charging network, delivering up to 25MW of power via an 8km private wire network. This will connect public charging facilities at Redbridge Park & Ride with National Grid’s high voltage transmission network.

At the Redbridge Superhub site, there will be 20 charge points ranging from rapid (50kW+) to ultra-rapid (150kW+). Along with these, there will be 30 fast charge points (min 7kW). These make up half of the 100 charge points for council vehicle depots and public use that Oxford City Council has committed to.

Pivot Power, which is leading the project along with Oxford City County, is also developing the world’s largest ever hybrid energy storage system for the site.

This will combine a 50MW lithium-ion battery and a 2MW vanadium redox flow battery, supplied by Invinity Energy Systems, the newly formed company from redT and Avalon.

The company said that the system will utilise the high-power capabilities of a lithium-ion battery with the heavy cycling, non-degrading characteristics of vanadium redox flow technology. As such, the system - which will share the grid connection with the private wire network – will be able to managed the complex demands of multiple energy applications.

Habitat Energy’s machine learning technology will then be able to balance the grid and optimise the battery technology, carrying out trading on the day ahead, intraday and balancing mechanism markets.

Pivot Power is aiming to “accelerate the UK’s transition to a clean, electric future,” said Tim Rose, the company’s ESO programme manager.

“The smart power network we are installing in Oxford will deliver flexible, reliable power at scale to fast-track EV adoption. As part of EDF Renewables UK, our aim is to replicate this model throughout the UK, supporting greater renewable generation and delivering power where and when it is needed to enable mass-scale, rapid electric vehicle charging.”

The final part of the Superhub involves supporting the rollout of low carbon heating, with Kensa Contracting’s heating solution to be installed in 60 affordable homes at housing association Stonewater's Blackbird Leyssite as soon as possible, and a further 240 over the next two years.

The technology combines ‘shoebox’ ground source heat pumps with smart controls, which work with a time of use tariff that allows consumers to optimise heat production for cost and carbon savings.

Councillor Tom Hayes, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council said: “Oxford is continuing to show leadership in tackling the climate emergency. With this project we're encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles and move to zero carbon.

“Energy Superhub Oxford gives Oxford strengths that no other city currently has: the world’s most powerful charging network and the world’s largest ever hybrid battery, and as a result we can accelerate our electric vehicle charging infrastructure for businesses and residents.”

The project is one of four being supported by more than £100 million of Industrial Strategy funding, selected by then-energy minister Claire Perry in April 2019.

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