Project LEO and SSEN | University of Oxford
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Project LEO and SSEN

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund - Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER): Wave 2

Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO) is described as “one of the most ambitious, wide-ranging, innovative, and holistic smart grid trials ever conducted in the UK”.

It is one of four Large-scale Demonstrators funded under the challenge Prospering from the Energy Revolution, through Innovate UK. It meets government’s priorities set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, the Smart Energy Systems and Flexibility Plan and Industrial Strategy’s clean growth pillar.

Project LEO explores how growth in local renewables, electric vehicles, battery storage, vehicle-to-grid technology can be supported by a local, flexible and responsive electricity grid to ensure value for consumers, plus opportunities for communities and electricity providers.

The project seeks to create the conditions of a future electricity system and grow an evidence base that can inform how we manage the transition to a smarter electricity system.  It will show how new markets can be unlocked and supported, create new investment models for community engagement, and support the development of a skilled community positioned to thrive and benefit from a smarter, responsive and flexible electricity network.

Findings from Project LEO will be shared collaboratively across industry, academia, policy makers and regulators, helping to inform and influence the energy system of the future.

The ISCF bid was led by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), which sees the project as key to informing how their traditional role can evolve to underpin the development of a smarter electricity system

Professor Malcolm McCulloch, University of Oxford said: “We are excited that this revolutionary project is happening in the UK. It will lead the world in developing new value streams from local energy assets using local markets.

“This project will transform new thinking in the future of energy systems to a reality and will crystallise large scale investment. This will enable a significant deployment of clean energy resources in Oxfordshire and enable end users to have a lower cost, secure energy supply.”

SSEN’s Head of Future Networks Stewart Reid said: “We are delighted that the UK Government has provided the final piece of funding for Project LEO. This will provide crucial research and learnings, accelerating the transition to new local energy systems and the move to a smart, flexible, low carbon future. 

“The electrical network and communities of Oxfordshire create the perfect environment for all the project partners to understand the value of new markets, technologies and solutions.  Importantly for SSEN it will allow us to understand how we will need to change to facilitate these new markets and solutions while still delivering energy in an economic, reliable, fair and sustainable manner.

“As is the case with most trials there will be challenges along the way and many expectations to be set and reset, however throughout the project we seek to find early successes which we can start offering throughout our network along with, inevitably some solutions that will be put in the “lesson learnt” box.”

Funder: Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (£13.8m) and £26m industry partners (£26m), awarded April 2019.