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Council awarded up to £10.9m to reduce carbon emissions across key Council owned buildings

Oxford City Council is to develop proposals to reduce carbon emissions its key sites across the city, after being awarded up to £10.9m from BEIS' Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund.

The grant funding will allow the Council to explore the provision of heat pumps, thermal storage and battery storage powered by renewable energy, at key Council sites.

  • £1.6M to explore how renewable energy can power Hinksey Outdoor Swimming Pool using water source heat network

  • £9.3M to explore how it can move key sites towards using heat pumps powered by locally generated renewable energy

The funding follows the publication of Council’s 4th Carbon Management Plan for 2021/22 to 2029/30, which outlines the intensification of the Council’s decarbonisation ambition and identified a £2.2m investment gap is identified per year to 2029/30 to meet zero carbon by 2030.

The grant funding has the potential to resolve around a third of this funding gap, while also aiming to significantly reduce carbon emissions by around 1574tCO2e/year – equivalent to three years of the average annual reduction in CO2e/y needed to reach zero carbon.

Hinksey Outdoor Pool

The Council has been awarded £1,636,736 which will allow the council to explore how Hinksey Pool can be powered using a local heat network consisting of water source heat pumps and battery/thermal storage, powered by renewable energy.

Hinksey Outdoor pool is one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in the south of England, with a capacity for 1300 people and a pool bather level of 250 swimmers.

The Council intends to minimise any potential disruption from the works, for those wishing to use the pool, once Government guidance allows for leisure facilities to reopen.

Heat pumps

The Council has been awarded a further £9,286,813 to install heat pumps (replacing gas boilers) across up to five of the Council’s big carbon-emitting sites.

Initially, the Council will explore how heat pumps can be utilised at:

  • Leys Pools & Leisure Centre

  • Oxford Ice Rink

  • Oxford Town Hall

  • Barton Leisure Centre

  • Rose Hill Community Centre

A heat pump is a renewable heating system that extracts low-temperature energy stored in the ground, water or air and concentrates this energy to produce a higher temperature. It is one of the most energy-efficient heating technologies available, and results in lower carbon heat than burning fossil fuels like gas.

The funding will also allow the Council to explore how it can invest in a large portion of a local solar farm, which will meet a significant part of the increased electrical demand arising from the shift away from burning gas for heating. Through this arrangement, green electricity could be provided to sites from remote PV.

The programme will also see the installation of thermal and battery energy storage at each site to maximise the effectiveness of the heat pump and solar PV approach.

The project is to be presented at Cabinet in February 2021, and the projects are to be completed by September 2021. The Council’s bids are to be developed in further detail over the coming months, in partnership with the Government and Salix Finance.

“This £10.9m boost will enable the City Council to make big savings in carbon and energy. It provides one-third of the funding needed to end our contribution to global warming by 2030. Hinksey Pools is on track to become an even better place to enjoy a dip, cutting its carbon footprint in half and doubling the enjoyment of visitors. Other sites will benefit from heat pumps replacing gas boilers, so that our citizens can directly enjoy the upgrades in the knowledge that they are meeting the climate crisis.” - Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford

Zero Carbon Council

Although it is responsible for just 1% of Oxford’s emissions, the City Council has already set out a plan to become zero-carbon across its operations by 2030.

Oxford City Council has been making good progress in recent years in reducing its overall carbon emissions. In the last five years, it has reduced its carbon emissions by over 5% per year.

The Council’s 4th Carbon Management Plan for 2021/22 to 2029/30 Plan outlines the intensification of the Council’s decarbonisation ambition, with the Council aiming to achieve an average annual (absolute) emission cut of 10% (approximately 530tCO2e) every year until 2030 – doubling its current business as the usual rate of reduction of a 5% year on year reduction target.

The Council’s main focus of activity to achieve this will be to effect a rapid switch to decarbonising its power for heating systems across its buildings and its fleet vehicles.

The reduction in the council’s carbon footprint has largely been through the installation of energy efficiency and conservation measures, including LED lighting upgrades, and an increase in the amount of electricity used by the council coming from renewable energy.

The Council is currently generating over 10% of its annual electricity consumption from Solar PV on its buildings. It is actively seeking ways of increasing that percentage through the addition of more solar installations such as at the Hinksey pools project, other buildings across its estate and also through support of and purchasing solar electricity from local solar farms.


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