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2019: the year hybrid heating came of age

It’s been a busy year for the Passiv team in 2019. Our research and development continued apace as we invested our time and resources to develop smart technology to support the decarbonisation of domestic heat and improve grid stability. We worked hard to launch our predictive demand control technology and hybrid heating solution to customers at an affordable price. And we have remained the partners of choice for many leading companies in the domestic heat and technology sector. Our work has spanned Scotland, Wales and England and with a successful contract in progress in Oman for monitoring solar PV, we are also excited to be expanding our market further afield.

 

Live projects in 2019

In Scotland, we have been working in partnership with SPEN on a project to demonstrate how we can use smart services to improve electricity system resilience. This has huge potential to save customers money in the long term. It may also demonstrate that there is less need to invest in the reinforcement of power networks if we can deploy smart services. We have completed a review of available demand side response flexibility in East Fife and are now preparing for a proof-of-concept trial which will go live in 2020.

Our Metron Project successfully passed into Phase 2 with BEIS and throughout 2020 we will be seeking commercialisation opportunities for our unique Sigfox-based building monitoring service. Our research shows that using Sigfox, the low-power wide area sensor data network, improves the reliability of automated meter readings and enhances remote diagnostics. This offers huge opportunities to reduce heating system maintenance costs and minimise inconvenience for residents by diagnosing issues quickly.

In the south of England, the Hitachi-led Smart Energy Islands Project has continued to run throughout 2019 and will conclude in 2020. The trial uses our smart controls to manage storage heaters and multizone heaters to demonstrate how multiple domestic energy loads can effectively respond to the availability of renewable energy generation on the islands. We are looking forward to reviewing and sharing the results in 2020 to see how the system has supported the islands’ energy system and reduced bills for the community.

Overseas, in Oman we were delighted to be selected as the technology platform of choice for a 1GW residential solar PV assest management programme. The platform will manage 250,000 domestic solar PV assets from pre-installation through commissioning, operation and maintenance. Our team has localised the platform to suit the typical environmental conditions found in Oman. By using extra sensors to analyse temperature degradation and soiling they can successfully combat sand, high winds and morning moisture, which typically leads to a build-up of encrusted sand on the panels. Our sensors and data analysis accurately forecast yield and alert maintenance teams to clean panels when required.

 

Bringing technology to market

This year was particularly exciting as we worked closely with partners to bring our smart control hybrid heating system to market through B-Snug and Future Heat. The system gives customers the opportunity to install an air source heat pump to work in alongside their existing boiler to save money on their oil or LPG heating bills. Using our smart controls, the hybrid heating system continuously evaluates and models the temperature of the home and interprets weather forecast data to optimise the heating strategy. Although our technology is capable of integrating with any form of heating, the 2019/20 offer is focused on homes off-grid as the results of the Freedom Project suggest that it is these homeowners who will make the greatest savings on bills and carbon.

By incorporating government funding options into the offer and spreading monthly costs over a seven-year period, customers are able to acquire the system for an attractive, low upfront cost. As well as offering a low-cost replacement heating system, the hybrid heating approach also offers an effective pathway to achieve low-carbon heating.

Awards

This year it was great to see the quality of our technology and success of our collaborative work win awards at a number of events including ‘The Game Changer Award’ at Network Magazine plus ‘Best Collaborative Project’ and ‘Best Emerging Cross-Vector Technology’ at the UK Energy Innovation Awards. We were also pleased to be finalists at the Energy UK Awards for the ‘Contribution to the Economy’ category, the Thames Valley Business Magazine Awards for the ‘Best use of Technology and Innovation’ category and at the Thames Valley Tech Awards. for the ‘Science and Technology’ category. The team have worked really hard, so we were delighted to see our efforts acknowledged in this way.

 

What’s in store for 2020?

With a new political landscape, we are looking forward to gaining more clarity and certainty on government policy to drive forward measures that will help meet the net-zero target. We are anticipating a significant growth in the hybrid heating market with increasing uptake of the Future Heat and B-Snug offers. We are also looking forward to seeing increasing interest and action around hybrid heating systems from social housing providers looking to take steps to reduce residents’ bills, meet carbon reduction targets over the coming decade and potentially unlock the value of demand response capacity in homes.

We have a number of exciting projects gearing up for the new year, for example, the Heat Share Project, in partnership with Castle Rock Edinvar (CRE) and Sunamp. This project uses an innovative hybrid communal heating system in Scotland.  We look forward to publishing the data on system performance at the end of the current heating season and exploring further opportunities for decarbonising heat with CRE.

The Smooth Partnership, in partnership with NODA will be operational at Harrods Village over the coming heating season and we are expecting to see significant operational efficiency improvements when the project concludes in June 2020.

The MADE project modelling has already provided valuable learnings on the impact of multi low carbon technology asset optimisation i.e. hybrid heating system and electric vehicle charging controlled under one control regime. The assets are now installed and we are capturing field trial data to validate our modelling. We look forward to announcing final outputs with WPD in September 2020.

Recent project wins that will start in 2020 include 4D Heat with National Grid, SBRI project with Bridgend CBC, and the D-Com project awarded under the Innovate UK Transforming UK construction competition.

 

The path to net zero

2019 has been an exciting and busy year for the Passiv team. For 2020, we’re anticipating a rapid increase in uptake of hybrid heating systems, bringing more technology to market and researching new, innovative solutions. The path to net zero isn’t going to be easy but with smart technology, predictive controls and hybrid heating solutions gathering momentum in 2020, there is now a clear route to decarbonising heat.