Oxfordshire council wins award for local area energy mapping project

Oxfordshire County Council’s Team Leader for EV Integration Paul Gambrell, centre, receiving the award from event host Sarah Travers, left, and APSE Chief Executive Mo Baines.

Oxfordshire County Council has won a national award for its role in a project that it says could revolutionise the way energy is produced and used in the UK.

The council won the award for the best climate action and decarbonisation initiative at the recent Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Service Awards 2023.

It was recognised for its energy insights tool and energy flexibility trials, successfully demonstrating the crucial role local authorities can play in moving away from the use of polluting fossil fuels. The work formed part of the Local Energy Oxfordshire scheme – also known as Project LEO.

Project LEO, is described as an ambitious, wide reaching, collaborative energy demonstrator scheme. It has provided a blueprint for a greener, more flexible and fairer electricity system for the UK in the future.

The council led the development of a strategic energy mapping platform developed with commercial partner Advanced Infrastructure Technology Ltd  to support local area energy planning and provided assets, including buildings, to participate in the flexibility trials.

Project Lead Inga Doherty, Oxfordshire County Council’s Climate Policy and Programme Team Leader, said: “We were delighted to pick up the APSE award for best climate action and decarbonisation initiative. The energy mapping platform is already contributing to decarbonisation work across the county and will be used to develop a robust, well informed, local energy plan for Oxfordshire.

“We also demonstrated how council assets can contribute to a transition to a net zero energy system. It’s fantastic to lead on initiatives that help us move over to cleaner energy that bit sooner and to have our work recognised by APSE.”

Councillor Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said the work “has documented the path to a national system that we need by the early 2030s.”

The energy mapping platform was tested by Oxfordshire’s city and district councils, and builds upon Advanced Infrastructure’s LAEP+ (Local Area Energy Planner Plus) platform, providing a spatial picture of how and where energy is used across the county and informs where changes are needed to enable the transition to net zero.

A wealth of data was provided through a collaboration with Energy Systems Catapult – a not-for-profit centre of excellence that bridges the gap between industry, government, academia and research.

It has already been used to inform the rollout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and identify areas suitable for inclusion in retrofit programmes to make buildings more energy efficient.

It will be key to developing a local area energy plan that identifies opportunities to reduce demand, maximise the use of the county’s existing energy infrastructure and scale up renewable generation.

Mo Baines, APSE Chief Executive, said: “We received over 300 submissions for the awards this year, with each one demonstrating a clear commitment to the goals of continuous improvement and the delivery of excellence in public services.

“On behalf of everyone at APSE, I would like to congratulate each one of our incredible finalists – you are a credit to the communities you serve.”

Lily Cairns Haylor, Head of Product and Co-founder at Advanced Infrastructure said: “In transitioning to a net zero energy system, the LEO LAEP+ energy insights tool has demonstrated its remarkable value in saving time and resources while pinpointing optimal locations and timing for the deployment of low-carbon technologies, including EV charge points.  We are extremely proud to have partnered with Oxfordshire County Council on Project LEO in our shared mission to decarbonise the local area.”