EP:50 – search for Oxfordshire’s best green transport and infrastructure project turns up two winners

Pivot Power and Zeta Specialist Lighting win joint first place in second category of countywide green energy competition  

Two projects aiming to decarbonise Oxfordshire’s roads have been named as the county’s most-impactful green transport and infrastructure initiatives in the second tranche of the Energy Pathfinders 2050 (EP:50) competition. 

Run by Oxfordshire Greentech and OxLEP, the competition aims to identify and showcase the county’s most exciting low carbon projects in a pivotal year for net-zero ambitions. Pivot Power’s Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) and Zeta Specialist Lighting Ltd’s Park and Charge Oxfordshire project (pictured above) were deemed to be equally outstanding representations of the principles outlined in the Oxfordshire Energy Strategy. 

Alongside the winners, Bicester-based SME Oxfordshire Office Furniture was highly-commended for the company’s pioneering commitment to electrifying its fleet and advocating for electric vehicles across the county. 

Entries were evaluated by experts from industry, academia, and the public sector, who awarded the first-ever EP:50 winner (Greencore Construction, for their Southmoor eco-housing development, Springfield Meadows) in April. 

The EP:50 announcement coincides with Net Zero Week 2021, a nationwide initiative to turn business and consumer attention to the importance of pursuing net zero carbon emissions. 

Here is a summary of the two winning entries: 

Zeta Specialist Lighting Ltd – Park and Charge Oxfordshire 

Zeta Specialist Lighting is a UK-based developer and manufacturer of LED and solar powered lighting systems. Park and Charge Oxfordshire is an Innovate UK and OZEV-funded project intended to provide electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure for local residents and visitors within Oxfordshire.  

One of the main barriers currently preventing Oxfordshire residents making the switch to electric vehicles is a perception of a lack of charging infrastructure. The project aims to change this perception by giving residents and visitors access to well-positioned car park charging hubs. 

The project has seen six chargers installed in Bicester already and its looking to install 140 total chargers throughout Oxfordshire providing 280 total charge points. The Park and Charge scheme allows residents to park for free overnight and charge their cars, all within a short walk of their house. 

Partners on this project include Oxfordshire County Council, The University of Oxford, Urban Integrated UK and SSE. The project was led by Zeta and EZ-Charge was set up to act as the Charge Point Operator (CPO), managed through the Zeta core business. 

Pivot Power – Energy Superhub Oxford 

Pivot Power (part of EDF Renewables) specialises in battery storage and EV power infrastructure, and is developing Europe’s most powerful EV charging network here in Oxford.Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) is a four-year, government-backed project pioneering an integrated approach to decarbonising power, transport and heat to accelerate Oxford’s zero carbon journey. 

The project showcases a powerful network of rapid EV charging, hybrid battery storage, low carbon heating, and smart energy management, combining new technologies and financial models to create a blueprint for towns and cities across the UK to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality. 

ESO is one of four demonstrator projects part-funded by the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund under its “Prospering from the Energy Revolution” programme. It draws on the technology and expertise of six partners comprising Oxford City Council, Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, Habitat Energy, Invinity Energy Systems, Kensa Contracting and the University of Oxford. 

The project aims to save 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per year once fully operational, rising to 25,000 tonnes per year by 2032. ESO will help Oxford’s citizens to power their lives with clean electricity, enjoy greener heat, refuel their electric cars quickly and easily, and breathe cleaner air. 

Leading into COP26

This EP:50 announcement comes less than four months before the international UN climate change conference in Glasgow, COP26 and also just several weeks following the publication of a major new report on the drive towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for the county, ‘Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire’.  

Ahmed Goga, EP:50’s Chair and Director of Strategy at OxLEP, said: “The fact that the panel was able to select two projects that met the high expectations set by our first tranche winner speaks volumes about the quality of the submissions in this category. Both projects are very different, but equally compelling exemplars of the ambitious principles outlined in the Oxfordshire Energy Strategy. 

“The projects also go a long way in addressing some of the key challenges set out in the Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire report, published last month, shining a light on Oxfordshire’s world-leading innovation ecosystem – a critical message to communicate ahead of this autumn’s COP26 event in Glasgow. 

“In addition – the projects demonstrate the significant, world-class innovation and expertise that exists in the county and really does emphasise that we in Oxfordshire can genuinely lead the way in tackling this major global issue and create impactful solutions.” 

Lewis Knight, EP:50’s Deputy Chair and Strategic Director at Oxfordshire Greentech, said: “We were impressed by the extent to which both winners demonstrated outstanding environmental, social, and economic impact, alongside significant potential to improve the long-term availability of sustainable transport and infrastructure within the county and beyond.  

“Both winning entries are proud members of the growing Oxfordshire Greentech network, highlighting the strength of Oxfordshire’s clean, green sector and acting as a zero-carbon pioneer for the UK. 

“We were also proud to see a highly commendable entry from Oxford Office Furniture –another dedicated member of our innovative Oxfordshire Greentech network, whose commitment highlights the net zero possibilities for small businesses across the county.” 

Tim Rose, Programme Manager for ESO at Pivot Power added: “Pivot Power is working hand in hand with Oxford City Council and the local community to deliver Energy Superhub Oxford, one of the world’s most ambitious urban decarbonisation projects, and to win this award for our impact, innovation, and potential confirms that we are on the right track. It is fantastic to see that key stakeholders from across the county are taking such a positive and proactive interest in making a net-zero Oxfordshire a reality.” 

Phil Shadbolt, Chairman at Zeta Specialist Lighting Ltd added“We couldn’t be more pleased to have been named as a winner. We are working hard to make electric cars a more viable option for people around the county, and hope this win will serve to encourage our communities that this project will have enormous, tangible benefits – socially, economically, and in improving access to greener transport.” 

Dave Beesley, CEO of Oxford Office Furniture said: “We are excited to be on the cutting edge of new, innovative solutions by installing V2G chargers with Nuvve and E-Flex.  

“When the vehicles return after their days’ work and are plugged in, some remaining energy in the battery is sent back to the building to offset the peak energy prices and lower the reliance on carbon-fueld energy during high demand periods of the day.”  

“People ask why we are doing this. The answer is easy – environmental protection is our core value and we want to make sure we are doing all we can for our grandchildren’s future and their grandchildren. Let’s hope many other businesses follow our lead so less power stations are required going forward and it’s a cleaner world for everyone.” 

Entries open 

The EP:50 competition continues with the third and final tranche, Energy Efficiency & Demand Reduction, now open for entries until Sunday 19 September 2021. The scope and timing of the competition reflects Oxfordshire’s preparations in the run-up to COP26 climate change summit in November. Organisations wishing to submit projects or register an interest can find more details on the OxLEP and Oxfordshire Greentech websites. 

The EP:50 project aligns closely with the county’s energy strategy which outlines a path to zero carbon by 2050, as well as supporting a drive to generate a further £1.35bn each year to the local economy, helping to create at least 11,000 new jobs in the low-carbon sector by 2030. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the low-carbon energy sector generated £1.15bn each year to the Oxfordshire economy.