The first rapid electric charger in Oxford was installed this week, as part of the £41m Energy Superhub Oxford project (ESO).

The new charger, produced by innogy eMobility UK, was installed at the Oxford Direct Services (ODS) depot in Marsh Road, Cowley, and with a 50kW charging ability, is capable of replenishing a vehicle’s battery by 80% in forty minutes. A further thirty-two fast 22kW chargers have also been installed at the site, marking a major development in the Superhub project.

The chargers will be connected directly to ESO’s electric vehicle charging network, and will contribute to ODS’s plans for one-quarter of their 330-vehicle fleet to be electric by 2023. Thirty-four vehicles will arrive this year, including street sweepers, an excavator, a range of vans, and a refuse collector, which is due for a trial period later in July. The use of just one electric refuse collector will save around 27 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year, meaning if all 27 collectors become electric, this could reduce emissions from this source by nearly 750 tonnes of CO2.

ODS is responsible for delivering all of the Council’s statutory services provided to residents and businesses, including waste, street cleaning, car park operations, parks maintenance and road repairs. Oxford City Council has been working in partnership with several companies as part of the ESO, including Pivot Power, Habitat energy, Invinity Energy Systems, Kensa Contracting and the University of Oxford.

The project will see the trialling of the world’s largest hybrid battery system, of 50MW, to power Oxford’s EV charging capacity and fleets, as well as to power ground-source heat pumps for residential properties.

Commenting on the project, Councillor Tom Hayes, OCC Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, said “It’s a great moment for Oxford and the City Council to see this new charging point going in, it’s a cornerstone event in the Energy Superhub Oxford project which brings significantly more power to the city. Every vehicle powered by electricity helps to reduce the council’s emissions and address our climate breakdown and air pollution problem.”

Owain Pearce, Transport Manager for ODS, added “Being a pioneer amongst councils I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve in such a short amount of time and hope this will only continue in future years.”

The move to electric vehicles comes after news this week that air pollution in Oxford increased in 2019, the first significant rise in 8 years, although this was largely due to weather conditions, rather than an increase in emission from traffic and congestion. 

Moreover, it was announced yesterday that researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford have secured £200,000 in funding to investigate the impact that the coronavirus lockdown has had on air pollution in the city. The research will be led by Dr Suzanne Bartington of the University of Birmingham, who is also an Oxford County Councillor, and its findings will help to inform the OCC’s Air Quality Action Plan, which is due to be published later in 2020. 

Max Spokes

Max (he/him) was formerly Environment News Editor and Climate Columnist at The Blue. He is in his final year studying History and Politics at Balliol.