OVO Energy is to lead one of the UK's largest ever zero-carbon heating trails, thanks to a £4.2 million grant from the government.
Kaluza, Sunamp, Retrofit Works and Parity Projects will work together with OVO Energy to install and operate zero-carbon heating systems worth up to £15,000 in 250 homes.
Mitusbishi’s Ecodan air source heat pump and Sunamp’s thermal batteries will be installed in the homes, creating electric, zero-carbon heating systems. Additionally, the homes involved will have up to £5,000 worth of energy efficiency improvements made.
Jessica Tan, director of OVO Smart Homes, said the company was committed to helping customers decarbonise their homes through “practical and affordable solutions".
"This trial allows us to develop alternatives to gas heating, which is a critical piece to deliver our sustainability vision under Plan Zero - to decarbonise 5 million homes by 2030.
“We are excited to be leading this work with partners, to drive the technological solutions which will move us towards zero carbon living in a way that’s sustainable for our customers and the climate.”
Kaluza’s smart flexibility platform will connect all of the heating devices, streaming and analysing data collected from sensors on the devices. This will help the company and its partners to understand how heating systems behave across homes, and how the systems could be optimised to reduce costs and carbon by working intelligently.
Conor Maher-McWilliams, head of flexibility at Kaluza, said: “Smart electric heat has game-changing potential for decarbonisation. Not only will this trial help to quantify the rewards for customers, but for the energy system as a whole.
“Uncovering how distributed devices like these could work together to support the grid will be crucial in scaling renewable heat solutions that can strengthen system resilience. Kaluza is one of the UK’s smart heat pioneers and is proud to be joining industry leaders in this landmark trial.”
Heating is the largest single source of emissions in the UK, representing 20% of the country’s total carbon. But with over 90% of the UK’s residents still reliant on burning natural gas for heating, there needs to be a major shift to decarbonise the sector. The need to move faster in this sector was highlighted last week by the Committee on Climate Change within its 2020 Progress Report, accusing policy of lagging behind what is needed.
OVO Energy and its partners hope that the trial will help to demonstrate how to overcome some of the challenges of switching to technologies like heat pumps, such as running costs, across a range of housing types.
William Edrich, global head of C&I at Sunamp, said: “The outcome of this trial has the potential to accelerate the transformation of the way we heat homes in the future, and we’re excited to be part of it.
"Demonstrating the impact of integrating our high power density, compact thermal reserve units with other world-leading technologies in a flexible system should give consumers the confidence to consider making the transition from gas to improve efficiency and cut carbon emissions.”
According to research by OVO and Imperial College London, adding flexibility to electric heating systems through the inclusion of thermal storage can save £6.9 billion in total system costs. This allows the transition to a decarbonised heating system to become more cost effective.
A number of projects in the UK are looking to use electrified heat for flexibility, including another involving Kaluza. Together with EDF and Dimplex, the three launched a project in March that is seeing Dimplex’s heat pumps installed and optimised using Kaluza’s software.
In 2018, OVO Energy also received a grant from the government's Low Carbon Heating Technology Fund, gaining £1.6 million for a collaborative Zero Carbon Home Project.