A ground-breaking ground source heat pump product with the potential to slash gas bills by up to a third, based on current UK markets, has been awarded UK government funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to accelerate its development for mass market deployment.

Kensa, the UK’s leading heat pump manufacturer, has been granted funding under Stream 2 of BEIS’ Heat Pump Ready Programme, to further develop its highly flexible storage heat pump technology, seen by some in the industry as the most disruptive update to heat pump technology since the refrigeration cycle was patented in 1865. The Heat Pump Ready (HPR) Programme forms part of BEIS’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes through the 2020s and 2030s. The Heat Pump Ready Programme will support the development of innovative solutions across the heat pump sector.

A successful widescale roll-out of the flexible ground source heat pumps could save homeowners hundreds of pounds on their energy bills, provide protection from volatile gas prices, and offer a cost-effective solution for the electrification of heating and cooling the UK.

The thermal battery capacity of the highly flexible storage heat pumps means they can hold heat energy for a significant amount of time. Utilizing direct integration of thermal storage into the refrigeration circuit removes two instances of heat exchange making the whole system architecture more efficient when compared to heat pump and hot water provision being connected hydraulically. This major innovation separates the demand for heat and hot water from its generation.

This means that the highly flexible storage heat pumps can be run when electricity is at its cheapest and the heat stored for use later when it is needed, reducing running costs and strain on the grid without compromising on people’s thermal comfort. It also makes installation simpler and cheaper, as no separate hot water cylinder is needed.

Whilst prototypes are currently being trialled in a small number of properties, being developed as part of the BEIS Heat Pump Ready Programme means the product can be designed to meet volumes with the aim of reducing manufacturing costs to drive down the cost of heat pump units in the future.

The Heat Pump Ready Programme supports the development and demonstration of heat pump technologies and tools, and solutions for optimised deployment of heat pumps.  The Government’s recently published Heat and Buildings Strategy sets out several key commitments for helping to ensure that the transition to low-carbon buildings is affordable and achievable for all, including delivering a package of measures to scale up the deployment of heat pumps to 600,000 a year by 2028 and to support industry to reduce the costs of heat pumps. As a key solution for decarbonising homes, heat pumps will be critical for meeting the UK’s legally binding commitment to achieve net zero by 2050.

Dan Roberts, Technical Director, Kensa Heat Pumps said:

The public sector funding provides a huge opportunity to accelerate development of this innovation and integrate its benefits within the larger scale plan to meet the United Kingdom’s commitment to net zero. The UK does not have time to spare to meet its 600,000 heat pumps yearly target by 2028. This funding, and the group of skilled partners we have assembled, will accelerate development time and allow the project to move much quicker.

We are proud that this revolutionary product will be British designed and manufactured, bolstering the green economy. It will impact the entire UK population positively, reducing the cost of heating, and reducing the cost of upgrading the National Grid so that more people across the nation can access and benefit from sustainable heating.

With the funding, Kensa will be able to utilise the resources of the Manufacturing Technology Centre part of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, and PNDC at University of Strathclyde. Each of these highly significant partners brings key skills needed to develop the product with greater levels of market penetration whilst maintaining a viable commercial operation.

Kathleen Goldie, Commercial Director, University of Strathcylde:

Heat pumps are a key solution for decarbonising homes. They will be critical for meeting the UK’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2050, which is why the decarbonisation of heat is a key focus area for PNDC’s whole system innovation programme. Kensa Heat Pump’s innovative design will allow significant flexibility and load shifting at increased efficiencies, enhancing the flexibility and resilience of the UK’s power grid. PNDC will support this programme by accelerating and de-risking the technology to meet future network scenario demands and to assess the technology’s performance against competing solutions on our realistic distribution network. We are very excited to be an innovation partner in this initiative!

Huw Sullivan, Sector Development Lead for Green Technologies from the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) said:

The Manufacturing Technology Centre is delighted to be supporting the development of Kensa’s heat pump technology, accelerating the ambition to decarbonise UK homes. This is an exciting project as it will demonstrate the potential for a quicker acting solution, providing hot water and heat when customers need it but with the potential to be delivered from lower carbon electricity.

Supporting the delivery of Net Zero is core to our vision for future UK manufacturing. Through our Liverpool, Midlands and Southeast facilities, we are supporting the next generation of green manufacturing technologies to ensure clean growth, stimulate investment in the UK supply chain, and create and safeguard UK jobs.

Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan said:

In light of rising global gas and oil prices, getting low-carbon heating technology into homes is a priority for this government as it will help households ditch the costly fossil fuels that are driving up bills.

Heat pumps are a proven, reliable technology that uses cheaper renewable energy produced in the UK. We are already bringing costs down through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and slashing VAT to zero, but by finding innovative ways to make them even cheaper and easier to install, we will help more homes see the benefits even quicker.

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