Policy Option 02 - Energy

  • Building standards can contribute significantly to carbon emissions reductions, by reducing the amount of energy required to operate a building and reducing the amount of energy lost through the fabric performance of a building.
  • In order to achieve net zero targets however, it is necessary to consider the net zero carbon energy balance, to ensure that there is sufficient renewable energy to meet energy requirements of development.
  • It is important to consider the future of energy infrastructure as part of the Oxfordshire Plan as the energy system, the generation and transmission and amount of electricity consumed, are likely to be very different by 2050. The electrification of heat, rise in the use of electric vehicles and increases in renewable energy generation will place new and significant burdens on an already constrained electricity network.
  • The Government's Energy White Paper (December 2020) builds on their Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution (November 2020) and establishes the Government's goal of a decisive shift from fossil fuels to clean energy in power, buildings and industry, while creating jobs and growing the economy and keeping energy bills affordable. It addresses how and why our energy system needs to evolve to deliver this goal and provides a foundation for the detailed actions to be taken.
  • The way in which we produce and use energy is at the heart of the Energy White Paper. Meeting challenging targets for net zero carbon emissions will mean eliminating the use of fossil fuels to power the economy and heat our homes and an increase in clean electricity which will become the predominant form of energy.
  • It is important to consider the future of energy infrastructure as part of the Oxfordshire Plan as the energy system, the generation and transmission and amount of electricity consumed, are likely to be very different by 2050. The electrification of heat, rise in the use of electric vehicles and increases in renewable energy generation will place new and significant burdens on an already constrained electricity network.
  • Existing energy infrastructure in Oxfordshire covers the generation, transmission and distribution of energy and includes gas, electricity and renewable energy. Homes and businesses across the county are served energy from a variety of different sources with varying proportions across all energy types.
  • There is already a significant amount of energy generated in Oxfordshire from a range of renewable sources, but with substantial variations in type and volume across the districts. The following diagram illustrates this:
  • Electricity network operators in Oxfordshire are transitioning from Distribution Network Operators (DNO) to Distribution System Operators (DSO) to accommodate the changes that will be required to enable net zero carbon. This transition requires flexibility in the management of the electricity network to ensure that the supply and demand for electricity are balanced. It has implications for spatial planning in Oxfordshire and will influence the distribution of future development.
  • The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has forecast that by 2050 demand on electricity networks could treble as the UK moves toward its net zero carbon emissions future. Key to delivering the ambitions of the Oxfordshire Energy Strategy is to ensure that the local network infrastructure is sufficient for new generation and demand
  • High level analysis of capacity at primary electricity sub stations in Oxfordshire identified a number of major electricity infrastructure projects which still required funding, to support the level of planned housing and employment growth to 2031.
  • The capacity of existing infrastructure and the cost and complexity of future upgrades to support planned growth in Oxfordshire are important considerations for the future planning of the county, both in terms of how much growth can be accommodated and where.
  • The significant demand that Oxford's substations already face undermines the feasibility of connecting new sources of generation to the distribution network. This could either stop new renewable generation from being deployed or make it prohibitively expensive.
  • Energy consumption analysis by local authority area in Oxfordshire shows relatively consistent levels as well as consistent fuel type proportions over the past 10 years, with bioenergy and wastes only partially replacing other traditional fuel sources. Oxfordshire's reliance on petroleum products and gas must reduce at a fast rate in order to meet national 2030 targets and clean energy goals.
  • This need is exacerbated by the population growth expected in the county. Electricity consumption has shown a reduction between 2008 and 2019 in all local authority areas through efficiency gains. However, alongside population growth, other factors will result in a need to address electricity consumption (e.g. transition to electric vehicles and decarbonisation of heat). Targets for electric vehicle use raise specific concerns over the requirements for large-scale investment in the electrical grid and network infrastructure.
  • Oxfordshire is home to two national demonstrator projects part funded by the UK's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund with investment in industry and research to accelerate innovation in smart local energy systems.
  • Energy Superhub Oxford is focused on the electric vehicle (EV) charging network with a transmission-connected network of rapid electric vehicle charging, hybrid battery energy storage, low carbon heating and smart energy management technologies that reduces stress on local grids.
  • Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO) is one of the most ambitious, wide-ranging, innovative, and holistic smart grid trials ever conducted in the UK. LEO will improve our understanding of how opportunities can be maximised and unlocked from the transition to a smarter, flexible electricity system and how households, businesses and communities can realise its benefits.
  • Both projects are important in demonstrating how integrated, intelligent local systems can deliver power, heat and mobility to users in new and better ways. The lessons learned will be influential in shaping the Oxfordshire Plan strategy including the distribution of development and investment in infrastructure.
  • The economic benefits of a low carbon transition in Oxfordshire will be realised by supporting ambitious and innovative clean generation projects across the county and supporting projects that reduce energy demand across all sectors and increase energy efficiency for domestic, industrial and commercial buildings.
  • The Oxfordshire Plan provides an opportunity to develop new ways of partnership working and to deliver innovative projects in the county. Establishing local smart energy networks will ensure that housing and economic growth is supported by clean energy and contributes to meeting net zero carbon targets.
  • There is a need to significantly increase the proportion of renewable electricity generated within the county to achieve a net zero carbon energy balance. Energy systems and the grid must adapt, to operate in a way that allows growth and supports the de-carbonisation of both heat and transport and takes account of implications for electricity demand and distribution.
  • The future of energy in Oxfordshire may have implications for the future distribution of development, and delivery of strategic scale renewable energy generation will have land use implications.
  • It is important for the Oxfordshire Plan to consider future infrastructure needs and land use implications of future energy infrastructure, particularly increases in renewable energy generation capacity, to set a framework for delivery as part of a sustainable spatial strategy for Oxfordshire.

Policy Options

Preferred Policy Options

Policy Option 02: Energy

The Oxfordshire Plan would seek to minimise energy demand and maximise the use of renewable energy, where viable, meeting all demands for heat and power without increasing carbon emissions.

Target for 100% of energy needs for major developments to be met from renewable energy sources.
Developments would be required to maximise energy efficiency whilst integrating renewable and smart energy technologies in order to minimise energy demand.

Installation and integration of these technologies should be delivered at the development stage to avoid more costly retrofitting after completion.

The Oxfordshire Plan would support the delivery of strategic and community scale renewable energy schemes, particularly where their establishment can support development and the transition to a smart, local energy system for Oxfordshire.

Alternative Policy Option 02-1

  • One alternative policy option is to not set county-wide targets for renewable energy in new developments and to defer to local plans and individual developments.
  • This option is not preferred, as establishing different approaches to renewable energy generation for new developments through local plans could undermine efforts to achieve targets for net zero carbon emissions in Oxfordshire over the lifetime of the Oxfordshire Plan.

Alternative Policy Option 02-2

  • Another alternative policy option is to set a percentage target for renewable energy generation in new developments e.g. minimum 10%.
  • This option is reasonable as the continued decarbonisation of the National Grid will help to ensure that a zero carbon energy balance could be achieved nationally and locally during the lifetime of the Plan, particularly with increased renewable energy generation locally. It is not the preferred option as a lower target would potentially fall short of local targets of net zero carbon emissions during the lifetime of the Oxfordshire Plan
  • The preferred policy option is to maximise the use of renewable energy in new developments in Oxfordshire, to ensure that rising demands for electricity are matched with zero carbon energy provision, to achieve a net zero carbon energy balance and to support efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions over the lifetime of the Oxfordshire Plan.
  • This is considered to be a strategic matter, as to ensure there is sufficient renewable energy generation capacity in the county may require land to accommodate renewable energy generation technology.

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