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Project LEO given green light for flexibility market trials

The flexibility market trials are set to launch across Oxfordshire later this year. Image: SSEN.

The flexibility market trials are set to launch across Oxfordshire later this year. Image: SSEN.

Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO) has been granted a nine-month extension by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as it looks to begin flexibility market trials.

The £40 million project – run by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), the Low Carbon Hub, the University of Oxford and Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils alongside five other partners – is aiming to examine how new competitive markets can be developed for low-carbon technologies.

With an extension out to March 2023 granted, it is hoped the learnings created from the flexibility market trials - which are to launch in six areas of Oxfordshire later this year - can be maximised, with the ability to then apply and replicate these learnings in other areas throughout the UK.

The flexibility market trials build on the work completed over the last few years to develop, test and prepare a proof of concept. They will launch in six areas of Oxfordshire later this year, and are open to generators, energy storage owners and those who can tailor their energy demand.

"The next phase of LEO will help build a real-life understanding of how the electricity system of the future functions and the different interactions occurring between consumers and generators," explained Mel Bryce, Oxfordshire programme director.

The extension was granted after the latest review by UKRI into whether the project is continuing to offer value for money and deliver on its objectives, including updating the Detailed Project Plan and creating a comprehensive Trial Programme.

Hailed as the “most wide-ranging and holistic” smart grid project in the UK, Project LEO was announced in 2019, with the second phase approved in May 2020.

In January 2021, SSEN installed 81 low-voltage monitors as part of the project, which are able to alert the network operator in real time to changes in demand, therefore allowing it to target investment in grid upgrades.

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