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How heat batteries are helping to power the net zero mission

By Trevor Cross, UK Sales Director, Sunamp | May 2022

 

Net zero. Two small words but one seismic challenge.

The original deadline of 2050 is testing enough but now, with the current unfolding crisis in Ukraine propelling the West to work at even greater speed to reduce our dependency on Putin’s gas, there’s a sense that net zero is not just a green goal, but the superhighway towards energy self-sufficiency and affordability.

The UK government’s British Energy Security Strategy sets out how the UK will become more self-sufficient.

So as the wheels of government move to shape energy policy based on harnessing the UK’s renewables and decreasing carbon emissions, I believe it’s increasingly important that people have access to the information they require to make their homes and businesses more energy-efficient and maximise their use of renewables.

The average consumer is aware of the simple little fixes they can make. On average we boil our kettles 1,500 times a year and most people know that if we only fill it for the cuppa we want, we can use less energy and save around £6 a year.

But the big stuff, addressing the heating of homes and water more efficiently is much more complex, partly because choosing an environmentally friendly option depends so much on the size and age of the property, the available budget and personal priorities.

Some things are incontrovertible. From 2025 gas boilers will no longer be allowed in new build houses and, although there is no exact date confirmed for when existing gas boilers will be phased out of homes, the direction of travel is very clear.

But in the meantime, there are lots of options for the current transition period and an internet awash with information for homeowners, developers and landlords. Heat pumps may be grabbing the headlines, but there are other environmentally friendly choices such as electric boilers, more energy-efficient gas or oil boilers or even, in the near future, hydrogen boilers. Which magazine has a good article reviewing the pros and cons of these options.

These are all worthwhile products to explore and cost out, taking into consideration how, or if, they are suitable for a particular property.

But blazing a trail into this product arena the heat battery is packing a considerable punch above its diminutive size. In fact, Sunamp’s pioneering Thermino range of thermal batteries just lifted the top honour at Futurebuild 2022, the industry’s highest accolade for game-changing technologies.

Working in tandem with a wide range of energy sources including renewable systems such as PV and ground and air source heat pumps, the Thermino heat battery does away with the need for hot water cylinders. Four times smaller than a hot water cylinder the Thermino uses phase change material to store energy from the heat pump and heat water on demand.

Taking up just a quarter of the space of a traditional hot water cylinder, the Thermino battery is already being used by social landlords to decarbonize homes and cut fuel bills for tenants by enabling hassle-free heating and hot water upgrades and by developers who are integrating the technology in new builds.

Some of the benefits of the Thermino which our clients have told us are most important to them are:

1. You don’t need an enormous hot water cylinder

Heat pumps, unlike combi boilers, need to work with big hot water cylinders.

A Thermino heat battery gets around this problem as it uses a phase change material to store the energy from the heat pump. Because the phase change material is so much more efficient at storing energy than hot water, it can be significantly smaller than the traditional hot water cylinder. It is, in fact, up to four times smaller, freeing up valuable storage space in the home.

2. You can harness green technology

Heat pump technology requires thermal storage and not all homes have space to put them. Householders intent on cutting carbon emissions and fuel bills want the most efficient thermal storage on the market. Thermino heat batteries are not only compact, their low heat losses mean they are more energy-efficient than any hot water cylinder on the market. Homeowners with solar PV panels can benefit by storing surplus energy that would otherwise be lost back to the grid and releasing it as heat for hot water.

3. You can forget about Legionella

Doing away with the hot water cylinder means there’s no risk of Legionella flourishing in a tank. And there’s also no need to heat the water to high, bacteria-busting temperatures, reducing both costs and energy emissions.

4. There are no nasty chemicals

The phase change material in the Thermino battery is effectively salt and vinegar, a food-grade substance, that can be reused, recycled or disposed of without harming the environment in any way. It also lasts, practically endlessly, with testing showing no degradation in over 40,000 cycles – the equivalent of 50 years – of charging and discharging.

5. Super insulation credentials

The Thermino is one of very few heat storage devices protected by high-performance vacuum insulation, ensuring that only half a kW hour is lost in 24 hours – retaining an impressive value of 95% of the energy collected.

6. Easy to install

The Thermino heat battery is easy to install and requires no routine maintenance.

7. Lower costs

Our analysis based on today’s fuel costs has shown that householders can expect to save as much as 1000kWh per year, equivalent to cutting electricity bills by £250 a year at today’s prices by using a Thermino battery instead of a traditional direct hot water cylinder.

Trevor Cross, UK Sales Director, Sunamp

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