In March 2021, OxLEP announced the launch of its £2.1m Business Investment Fund to support the county’s businesses into a phase of economic renewal following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since then, the OxLEP Business-administered scheme – funded by the government’s Getting Building Fund – has delivered grant funding to 38 businesses, with individual grants ranging from £25,000 to £100,000. One of these recipients is Bicester-based Zeta Specialist Lighting, with the experts in LED and solar lighting utilising funding to develop a new range of EV charging points specifically designed for the workplace.
These further advancements in the promotion of more widespread electric vehicle use across the county comes following the success of Zeta-supported 'Oxfordshire Park and Charge' project, developing a state-of-the-art EV charger suitable for local authority car parks.
Just last year, the lighting specialists were announced as one of the joint winners in the second tranche (pictured above) of OxLEP and Oxfordshire Greentech’s countywide green energy competition, Energy Pathfinders 2050 for the innovative Park and Charge scheme.
The project now has charging points installed right across the county, including the following locations:
- Abingdon: Audlett Drive, Cattle Market and West St Helens Street
- Banbury: Calthorpe Street West and Windsor Street
- Bicester: Cattle Market and Claremont
- Carterton: Black Bourton Road
- Chipping Norton: New Street
- Eynsham: Back Lane
- Faringdon: Southampton Street
- Henley-on-Thames: Greys Road and Kings Road
- Kidlington: Curtis Place
- Thame: Southern Road
- Wallingford: Cattlemarket and Goldsmith's Lane
- Wantage: Portway
- Witney: Woodford Way
- Woodstock: Hensington Road
The Park and Charge scheme allows residents to park for free overnight and charge their cars, all within a short walk of their homes.
Partners on this project include Oxfordshire County Council, The University of Oxford, Urban Integrated UK and SSE. The project has been led by Zeta Specialist Lighting and EZ-Charge was set up to act as the Charge Point Operator (CPO), managed through the Zeta core business.
Through funding received through the Business Investment Fund, this has enabled Zeta Specialist Lighting to further research and development of the charger, adapting charging points to become effective for use at the workplace, allowing effective EV charging here and in local authority car parks – utilising the same park and charge network.
The research and development required to develop this new charger includes the design and development of custom tooling, plastic mouldings, printed circuit boards and componentry suited to a higher production volume. In order to increase manufacturing, this has required new staff and expertise, providing opportunities for apprenticeships and training programmes, with plans to offer up to four placements for students, with the potential of a further two through the government’s Kickstart scheme and an increase in full-time members of staff if required – by up to double the existing employees.
A representative from Zeta Specialist Lighting, said: “The funding has made it possible for us to improve our working environment, update some IT and to develop our new DC charger – without it none of this would have been possible. Our ambitions for the future are to grow exponentially and exploit the opportunity from EV market growth, look into export opportunities and develop more new products.”
With the project thriving, not only is this beneficial in supporting economic renewal in Oxfordshire, but given the EV capabilities Park and Charge, supports the county’s low carbon ambitions, in the run up to the 2050 net-zero target.
A full transition to electric vehicles will have a huge impact on achieving net-zero ambitions, with projects such as Park and Charge drastically reducing carbon footprints, by facilitating the infrastructure to support company fleets to take on electric vehicles, along with offering employees resource to charge their vehicles at their workplace.