22 March 2021
With the Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) Pilot set to start in August 2021, ODS – Oxford City Council’s wholly owned company – has made a significant step in the electrification of its fleet, with the arrival of Oxford’s first electric refuse collection vehicle.
The vehicle is the latest in its 339-strong fleet to be converted to electric, thanks to funding from Energy Superhub Oxford. The project is helping ODS to convert 25% of its fleet to electric by 2023. It is already well on its way to meeting this target, with 51 electric vehicles in operation and a further eight vehicles on order.
ODS currently has 27 refuse trucks to cover every home and business in Oxford. Once each refuse vehicle is replaced with an electric model, 750 tonnes less CO2 will be pumped out by Oxford per year— the weight of one average car every day.
The electric refuse truck, which was built by British makers of precision-made vehicles, Dennis Eagle Ltd, has both a quieter engine and lifting machinery than diesel trucks (in addition to zero exhaust emissions). It was successfully trialed last July, which allowed ODS to assess the vehicle’s performance and suitability to Oxford’s streets ahead of delivery. At the time, Oxford residents commented on the benefits of the quieter engine and how it was ideal for busy urban environments.
The adoption of electric refuse collection vehicles is still relatively new across the country and in addition to that, the large battery size means that purchasing these vehicles is around double the price of a diesel equivalent. It is anticipated that as these vehicles are adopted on a wider scale, more vehicles will be able to join Oxford’s fleet without the need for external funding.
Oxford City Council has set a target to deliver average annual carbon emission cuts of 10% a year until 2030 – doubling its current business as usual rate of reduction of a 5% year on year reduction target. To achieve this it aims to rapidly decarbonise power for heating systems across its buildings and its fleet vehicles.
The £41m Energy Superhub Oxford project is a key measure in delivering these plans, and is designed to integrate and dramatically decarbonise energy, heat and transport systems across the city. The project onsortium includes Oxford City Council, Pivot Power, part of Renewables EDF, Habitat Energy, Invinity Energy Systems, Kensa Contracting and University of Oxford. Last year, the project saw the installation of 38 electric vehicle chargers and the city’s first 50kW rapid electric charger for ODS’ electric vehicle fleet at the ODS depot in Marsh road in Cowley, as well as the delivery of 26 electric vehicles to ODS’ fleet.
Commenting on the vehicle’s arrival, Councillor Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for green transport and zero carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council said: “She’s electric! With the Zero Emission Zone Pilot set to start, Oxford’s first electric bin lorry is taking to the streets, the Binderella of the council’s fleet. Oxford’s place as a leader in the electric vehicle field is widely recognised and strengthened by our partnership with the world-leading Energy Superhub Oxford. We’re driving forward our efforts to achieve the cleanest air possible, a truly zero carbon city by 2040, and eliminate the council’s own contribution to climate change by 2030. And it’s fantastic news for residents as our electric bin lorry quietly moves around our neighbourhoods and confines its diesel counterparts to the dustbin of history.”
Maria Warner, waste and recycling manager at ODS added: “Given the fact that we collected more than 3 million bins in 2020 alone, the conversion from diesel-operated vehicles to electric is a huge step in reducing carbon emissions in the city of Oxford. Our trials of the new eRCV went exceedingly well, and we are thrilled about putting the vehicle to use in order to help OCC meet its goal of achieving a zero carbon Oxford by 2050. We are so very thankful to everyone involved, including our front-line workers who have helped to make this day possible.”
Tim Rose, programme manager for Energy Superhub Oxford at Pivot Power said: “Energy Superhub Oxford is delighted to see Oxford’s first electric bin lorry hitting the city’s streets. It’s a significant milestone in the Council’s fleet electrification strategy, which will help to improve air quality and cut carbon across Oxford. The insights and lessons learned from its operation will help other towns and cities across the UK decarbonise transport and accelerate a net zero future.”