The West Oxford Model

For the past fifteen years, residents in West Oxford have been working hard to implement an award winning climate change project.  LCWO was set up with the aim to reduce the community’s CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, and is now working to support a fair transition to net zero in line with Oxford City Council’s ambitious 2040 target.  If you’re wondering what net zero means, find out here.

We have pioneered the idea of the double carbon cut in our emissions.  The first comes from the generation of renewable energy; the second comes from reinvesting the surplus income from the energy (from the FIT or Feed-in Tariff) to be used for further carbon cutting projects in the local community.

Our model works as follows:

  • West Oxford Community Renewables (WOCoRe), an Industrial and Provident society for the benefit of the community, raises money from a mix of government grants, prize money and its own share offers
  • It invests the capital in community renewable energy projects based on the natural resources of our area – solar PVs on buildings, a micro-hydro in the Thames (Osney Lock Hydro) and small wind projects on surrounding hills – to reduce the community’s CO2 emissions
  • The electricity is sold to the building/land owners (with any excess sold back to the grid) and the surplus income donated to Low Carbon West Oxford, a registered charity, to fund further carbon reduction projects in the community. Current projects include the Street by Street Programme, plus tree and wildlife, transport, waste reduction, and sustainable food projects.
The West Oxford Model
The West Oxford Model

This approach therefore:

  • produces a double cut in CO2 emissions from the renewable energy projects and other carbon reducing projects in the community
  • enables the community to generate a self sustaining flow of income
  • generates a range of other social and economic benefits for the community

The West Oxford project

In 2009 the West Oxford project won over £900,000 from a mix of a government grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (The Low Carbon Communities Challenge) and prize money from a national climate change competition (The Big Green Challenge run by NESTA).

The bulk of the government grants and prize money has been channeled to WOCoRe and has been used, alongside capital from share offers, to install solar panels on a range of buildings including a not-for-profit, a secondary school, and social housing. WOCoRe has also developed a microhydro project at Osney Weir (Osney Lock Hydro) and installed a small wind turbine at Hogacre Common Eco Park.

To find out more, see our Low Carbon Living report.