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Senergy: Innovative solar thermal

Decarbonising heat is the biggest challenge the UK faces in terms of transforming the energy system to meet Net Zero carbon targets – and innovation is crucial to that challenge.

Senergy have developed a solar thermal panel designed to deliver affordable heating. Unlike solar PV made from glass, copper and aluminium components, Senergy’s panels are 100% polymer plastic – increasing their thermal efficiency whilst reducing delivery and installation costs.

Energy Systems Catapult worked with Senergy via the Energy Launchpad to help refine their business model and how they pitch to customers. Our Digital and Data team carried out a Digital Energy Fitness Assessment, whilst our Modelling experts are helping the firm to validate their product with our Home Energy Dynamics simulation tool and our Business Modelling experts helping to develop their route to markets.

The Innovation

Senergy has developed innovative Solar Thermal Panels targeted at the residential home heating sector.

Made from an innovative nanocomposite polymer and nanomaterial mix, the panels are lighter, stronger, more durable and more efficient at conducting energy to provide enhanced thermal properties.

Senergy’s panels have potential to support a substantial element of a building’s heat demand and can be integrated with heat pumps, energy storage applications and to supply hot water.

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The Challenge

Heating our homes and buildings is responsible for around 20% of UK carbon emissions. To achieve our 2050 Net Zero target, the UK’s 27 million households will need to rapidly adopt new low carbon heat solutions throughout the 2020s and 2030s.

Currently, Senergy operate as a manufacturer of solar thermal panels, sold as part of a building’s heating system. However, to enable Senergy to develop the market, particularly on an international basis, may necessitate this approach to be adapted to reflect the specific commercialisation needs of each of its targeted sectors.

As the product matures along the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), there is an opportunity to optimise the commercialisation strategy for each target markets, recognising the value the panel’s aesthetic and structural properties may bring to affect the target market’s acceptance of the solution.

The Solution

Energy Systems Catapult is home to the Energy Launchpad that draws on our capabilities and assets, along with those of our partners. The Energy Launchpad provides innovators with tailored incubation and acceleration support to help address systemic barriers, de-risk innovation, help businesses scale and secure investment.

Tailored support for selected SMEs utilising the Catapult assets and capabilities, and delivery partner offerings, such as business model development, energy system integration assessment, consumer insights guidance, digital fitness, market testing and validation, investor readiness, specialist advice, as well as identification for Acceleration support.

Energy Launchpad worked with Senergy to deliver:

  • Building Energy System Modelling: Using our Home Energy Dynamics tool we simulated the integration and interaction between an innovation and other home elements, such as: heating systems, smart controls, building fabric, weather and consumer needs. In this case, the Senergy solar thermal panels were simulated with a range of housing types and occupancy profiles to understand the innovation’s value proposition and economic benefits.
  • Business Model Innovation: Detailed business models were developed for various market value propositions and entry scenarios.
  • Digital and Data: Development of a digital strategy by conducting a series of workshops to understand the systems requirements and integration into a smart home energy management system, explore options and develop the digital strategy.
  • Workshops were run with other SMEs developing associated products to find potential partners for offering integrated solutions.
  • Policy and Regulation: Insights into medium term energy sector changes, regulatory barriers and how this affects business models and business plans.

Impact

The results of the HED modelling showed definite opportunities for their product in the marketplace; firstly competing like-for-like with solar PV, and secondly in integrating the product with other technologies, such as heat pumps and thermal batteries to help reduce heating costs during the winter period.

Energy Systems Catapult’s support helped Senergy to:

  • Progress the TRL of their product from 4 to 6.
  • Win three new pilot customers to carry out demonstrations.
  • Find new partners to collaborate, integrating the product into complete home heating solutions.
  • Secure £130,000 of funding to invest in progressing the TRL towards commercialisation and build internal capabilities to become investor ready.

Next Steps

Following pilot demonstrations, Senergy plan to order the manufacturing tooling to enable then to start production of the panels, which should see the panels on the homes of early adopters in the UK in 2022.

Senergy with the support of ESC’s International Launch Pad is pursuing exciting opportunities for their product in USA, India and New Zealand.

The Senergy team with their innovative nanocomposite polymer and nanomaterial mix solar thermal panel.

The Senergy team with their innovative nanocomposite polymer and nanomaterial mix solar thermal panel.

Energy Launchpad

Working with innovators to propel them step-by-step through technical validation towards commercial vindication.

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Home Energy Dynamics

First-of-a-kind simulation tool for testing product performance before committing costs to real-world demonstration trials

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