Sunamp: Heat Batteries

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.

Sunamp has developed groundbreaking compact ‘heat batteries’ that store thermal energy at times when renewable generation is plentiful and cheap to be used for heating at a later time on demand.

Energy Systems Catapult worked with Sunamp via the Energy Launchpad to assess the current market landscape, model how the technology can best be integrated into heating systems, assess the value for consumers, and refine the customer proposition.

The Innovation

Sunamp heat batteries use a patented phase change material that provides the residential market with a low carbon, reliable, space-saving thermal battery storage system.

With the emergence of dynamic time of use tariffs households will be able to cut carbon emissions and fuel costs by charging the battery with mains power at times when grid demand and cost is low or by using on-site renewable electricity- such as solar PV. The energy can then be released to deliver space heating, hot water and even cooling on demand across a wide range of temperatures.

Sunamp’s range of four battery sizes can be combined to create the right solution to perfectly match the exact heating requirements of a property – yet are four times smaller than equivalent hot water cylinders.

The company’s range of heat batteries for the residential market provide a low carbon, reliable, space-saving thermal battery.

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.

There is a significant opportunity for thermal storage to provide one of those solutions, by shifting loads away from times of peak demand or by taking advantage of times of surplus renewable generation.

The challenge for Energy Systems Catapult was to help Sunamp identify which part of the residential market they should target through maximising the use of embedded electric generation in homes; to assess how their heat battery technology can best be integrated with heat pumps or existing gas heating systems; and to refine the customer value proposition.

Figure 1: Sunamp thermal batteries use a patented phase change material to store heat

Figure 1: Sunamp thermal batteries use a patented phase change material to store heat

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.

Energy Launchpad’s Acceleration programme provides scale-up support for selected high-impact potential SMEs, including Business Model development and validation, Access to demonstration environments like the “Living Lab”, Engagement with potential corporate customers, Investment Readiness and Partnership, Access to International opportunities and Investment partners.

Energy Launchpad – Acceleration

Energy Launchpad helped Sunamp to determine the revenue streams associated with connecting their heat batteries directly to the grid and any embedded generation, in order to provide heating and hot water to households.

  • Market Landscape Analysis: We assessed the value proposition identifying the priority segments for a deeper study on the appeal of a range of system configurations and business models.
  • Building Energy Systems Modelling: The Home Energy Dynamics (HED) tool was utilised to identify the optimal configuration of heat batteries in a range of housing types and occupancy profiles. HED can model the interactions between different domestic heating systems, smart controls, building fabric, weather and consumer needs.
  • Business Model Innovation: Developed concepts into innovative service-based offers by sector (New Build, Build to Rent, Social Housing Retrofit), exploring the value from integration as part of a smart home solution and the route to market partnerships required. Consumer Insights research validated the propositions using depth interviews with Housing Directors in social and new build organisations.
  • Consumer Insight: Access current installed base to gain insights into consumer experiences with heat battery, the benefits realised and any behavioural changes, to help develop the Consumer Value Proposition for residential.
Read more

Andrew Bissell, CEO Sunamp Heat Batteries

“What I valued most was the surety of the results from the model – I didn’t have to put time in to examine or check the results. I trusted the results based on the Energy Systems Catapult staff we were working with – they came across as very solid and thorough.”

The Impact

Sunamp used the insights from the market analysis, Business Model Innovation and consumer research to identify the most attractive market segments and the integrations and partnerships needed to be successful.

The Home Energy Dynamics modelling work provided the data to specify the optimal configuration and battery size by building and occupancy type. The Catapult’s independent verification enabled Sunamp to evidence to social housing providers the value of installing heat batteries in high rise dwellings.

Sunamp are now gaining traction in this market, having undertaken two product trials that led to confirmed sales, including their biggest single order to date.

Energy Systems Catapult’s support has helped Sunamp to progress the Technology Readiness Level of their product from 8 to 9.

Their new customer wins have helped to take their turnover from £3.5million to £5.4million.

Next Steps

Energy Systems Catapult market analysis supported by the HED modelling has identified an opportunity in the private owner occupier market. Sunamp are accelerating their Go-to-Market plan supported by our recommended activities and partnerships, enabling them to enter this market much faster than would have otherwise been possible.

With strong evidence of market need from the consumer insights work, Sunamp are adding resources to the marketing teams to support the sales activity.

And the firm is seeking further funding to support the cost of product certification.

Update: 4th November 2021

During COP26, Sunamp announced they had signed a £50million agreement with HVAC distribution giant Thumos to roll out their energy saving thermal storage products into residential and commercial markets in China.

The memorandum of understanding is expected to lead to £50 million in sales for Sunamp over the next five years and to lead to the establishment of a Sunamp factory in China. Sunamp’s manufacturing facility in Scotland, is already active in 17 countries worldwide. The company recently opened its first factory under licence in Korea.

Sunamp and Thumos have already committed to work together roll out 400 Heat Batteries into high-end apartments of the prestige Hitime projects in Shanghai and into a large pipeline of projects across China.

Update: 28 November 2022

Sunamp is to receive £9.25 million to develop and trial its advanced thermal storage system in 100 Living Lab homes across the UK. Sunamp will extend their existing heat battery to provide increased storage duration and capacity and pair it with household energy systems to tackle periods of low renewables generation on the grid.

The funding is awarded through the Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration programme, part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of which provides funding for low-carbon technologies and systems.

In addition, the Living Lab now connects to our new Whole Energy Systems Accelerator, allowing us to test the benefits that Sunamp’s heat battery technology brings to the wider electricity network, utilising real-time data on real world household behaviour.

Net Zero Homes

We help home energy innovators grow fast… delivering peerless real-world testing, and driving skills and investment for zero carbon homes

Find out more

Want to know more?

Find out more about how Energy Systems Catapult can help you and your teams