Rotaheat: commercialising clean thermal energy innovation

Rotaheat is a Port Talbot-based firm that has developed a patented heating technology that converts motive power into clean thermal energy in the form of heated fluids. Capable of delivering clean heat with 97%+ energy efficiency, while contributing zero carbon emissions, Rotaheaters are suitable for space heating in buildings or to provide hot fluid for industrial processes or energy storage.

Rotaheat engaged with Energy Systems Catapult to seek qualification of target markets, an independent review of its business model and to develop a strong route to market for a new heating service proposition.

The challenge 

Having gone through research and development, and gained the engineering certifications required, Rotaheat required specialist support to refine their new service’s route to market, to validate who their core target markets were, and test their value proposition with the energy market and industry stakeholders.

Particularly, they sought market insights to inform them whether it would be best to approach the market as a systems integrator (SI) or direct-to-consumer as an energy supplier. In either respect, outputs and performance analysis would be required to prove durability, reliability and validate that the energy source is variable.

The innovation

Simple to install and requiring minimal support infrastructure, Rotaheaters are designed to heat fluid for closed or open loop systems at temperatures up to 110°C (but can exceed over 300°C) and work alongside existing heating systems Rotaheaters convert motive power (rotational input energy) direct to clean thermal energy as heated fluids and are suitable for inclusion within a wide range of fixed and portable solutions. Demonstrated systems incorporating Rotaheaters include wind-thermal and hydro-thermal systems. Rotaheat planned to use the demonstrated systems as the basis for an innovative ultra-low carbon heating service.

The solution

  • The Catapult worked with Rotaheat to carry out a light touch review of their business model in the first instance.
  • They carried out a large segmentation exercise to help understand and refine the go-to-market proposition, identifying the commercial industrial space as the most viable market segment for Rotaheat.
  • Further to this, the Catapult helped Rotaheat identify where in this market they were best placed, and helped understand the competitive landscape and gain insights into geographical and regulatory restrictions that the business may face.
  • The Catapult also helped Rotaheat with investor readiness, including preparing sales decks, developing tight vision and mission statements, providing pitch and oratory skills training, and providing introductions to the right investors that could help the business secure the fundraising required for the next phase of going to market.

Figure one: image of a waterwheel in Derbyshire which plays host to a Rotaheater

Robert Thompson, CEO, at Rotaheat said:

“Energy Systems Catapult provided Rotaheat with practical expertise to help validate a new proposition and business model. The Catapult established valuable market insight by engaging with its network. The Catapult’s assistance in developing the proposition led to Rotaheat securing interest from potential institutional investors.”

The impact

  • Rotaheat has qualified and characterised their target market via their work with the Catapult. They gained the insights they required to understand their place within the energy value chain and how they can best help drive their business forward, with a focus on large commercial spaces such as warehouses and integration with wind turbines.
  • With a clear vision of where to focus attention, Rotaheat can capitalise on their technical market readiness to drive the next phase of commercialisation.
  • The business has started conversations with potential institutional investors and has a strong proposition to help secure future rounds of funding and business development.

Next steps

  • Rotaheat’s solution is a disruptive market innovator, however there is still complex work to be done to displace carbon energy sources. This includes consumer and market insights to understand what the commercial terms may be for future energy contracts.
  • The business continues to engage with funding opportunities and welcome conversations with interested investors.

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