26 August 2020
Oxford City Council has ambitious plans to tackle the climate crisis. The Council’s lead for Energy Superhub Oxford, Tina Mould, explained how the project is helping to accelerate its zero carbon journey and encourage more of the city’s residents and business to go electric!
What does your role involve?
I’m project manager and lead for a number of council capital funded projects, working with lots of different departments, including property, legal, finance and planning, to meet and co-ordinate all the project objectives and outcomes.
How can local authorities help achieve the UK’s net zero targets?
In the areas that they can control and deliver local authorities can have a massive impact. They can use their land and property for net zero technology, for example, installing electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and improving building efficiency. They can lead by example and make sustainable purchasing decisions, such as with their own fleet or electricity and gas supplies. And they can also partner with local businesses and sustainability groups to develop low carbon projects, such as Energy Superhub Oxford.
They’ve also help to set standards and influence behaviours, so they can make planning decisions which improve energy standards, they can lobby government and they can educate and work with residents and businesses to set policies for carbon reduction.
How is Energy Superhub Oxford helping to accelerate a zero carbon Oxford?
One of the barriers to EV adoption is a lack of infrastructure, so the private wire charging network will help to accelerate the electrification of vehicle fleets of all ranges and sizes, including privately owned vehicles in Oxfordshire, as well as supporting the implementation of the Zero Emission Zone in 2021.
It’s also allowing the Council to set an example and electrify around 15% of our fleet, while the battery will support more green electricity. Alongside these tangible deliverables, the project is creating knowledge, learning and skills to accelerate EV adoption, which will help the city to further embrace this technology. And it sets a massive example to other businesses and fleet operators in Oxfordshire.
What role is Oxford City Council playing in the project?
The Council has an ambitious programme for achieving zero carbon by 2030 and improving the air quality of Oxford with the introduction of a Zero Emission Zone in 2021. Through the project we are looking to electrify 40 vehicles and we’re trialling new electric models which we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise, including a street sweeper, refuse collection vehicle, and JCB, which supports our ambition to electrify up to 25% of our fleet by 2023.
The project is also helping to support Oxford’s hackney taxi drivers to adopt electric vehicles with some grant money going towards licensing test fees and a try-before-you-buy scheme which gives drivers the opportunity to trial an electric vehicle for 2-4 weeks. We’re also providing the site for the largest public EV charging superhub in the UK, at Redbridge Park & Ride.
What are you working on right now?
We’re installing charge points at four council depots, to power the electric vehicles that we’re buying, and we’re also working on plans for the public EV superhub. It will have a minimum of 50 charge points, 30 fast and 20 ultra-rapid, and we’re close to awarding contracts for the suppliers of the ultra-rapid charge points, which are the closest thing to an electric petrol station. At the same time, we’re just going out to tender for the 30 fast AC charging points. These are similar in speed to home charge points so are aimed at people using the park-and-ride to shop or work in Oxford and plug into them when they visit the city.
What is the most exciting thing about Energy Superhub Oxford?
What I find most exciting is the technology, the innovation and the partnership working, followed closely by the learning and support that will come from the project. The evaluation part of the project will be really interesting and I’m looking forward to what we’ve learned being used to help other councils and businesses move forward with fleet electrification.
What impact do you hope the project will have, in Oxford and further afield?
I hope the public EV superhub will encourage more people to purchase electric vehicles. A lot of Oxford residents don’t have off-street parking so it will provide a base for them to go to. The private wire is also amazing because it provides such a large electricity capacity which we know is one of the issues with the grid, and that is going to allow Oxford’s bus companies to look at electrification at a sensible cost.
What changes are you hoping to see over the next decade?
More than anything I would like to see focussed long-term, cross-party government support and funding for sustainable solutions. It’s a shift that means government making the right choice for the environment in almost all the decisions that it makes and investing in a really focussed strategy.
What do you think are the biggest challenges we need to overcome?
The biggest challenge is funding, combined with a focussed long-term strategy, and then alongside that comes industry knowledge and technical expertise. Technology is moving so fast it can be difficult to find people with the skills and expertise to make the changes we need. On the flip side coming out of Covid-19 everybody is looking at the climate emergency and trying to focus on a greener future. Lots of countries have already made some really positives changes and I’m hoping that we’ll follow and do the same.
How has Covid-19 impacted the work of you and your team?
The team that I work in covers a multitude of different areas, but on ESO we’ve been incredibly busy. Our supply chain has been slightly delayed as you might expect. But one of the brilliant things about ESO is the team is very strong and professional. They’ve worked really hard to mitigate the challenges and find solutions and we’re hoping that the impact will be no more than three months.
What has helped you to cope with lockdown?
My tips are lots of cycling, anything that makes you laugh – so for me that’s Gogglebox and some silly things – gardening, learning how to mosaic, and most importantly, noise-cancelling headphones!