SSE, Intelligent Energy and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, have backed Scottish start-up IE-CHP which aims to change the way domestic energy is made and used.
The Bellshill firm has raised £800,000 in new funding to further develop its prototype smart power units, or ‘mini power stations’, which use mains gas to generate electricity and hot water in people’s homes.1
According to a newly released industry report by energy analysts Ecuity, millions of these mini power stations could transform the UK power market. Ecuity estimates smart power units are suitable for 90 per cent of UK households and small businesses, totalling around 22 million properties.
“IE-CHP’s smart power technology is different, in that it works with existing boilers,” says Mark Bugler, IE-CHP technical director. “This makes it much easier to install in people’s homes than was possible with earlier approaches, and it opens up a potentially enormous UK market.”
The widespread roll-out of five million fuel cell smart power units across the UK by 2030 would be equal to around 14 major new gas power generation units, the Ecuity report says. The idea has already taken hold overseas: more than 80,000 smart power units have been installed in Japan as part of a strategic objective to introduce 5.3 million units by 2030.
“The attraction for consumers and energy utilities is enormous, and we welcome the strong backing from SSE, Intelligent Energy and Scottish Enterprise who recognise the potential of IE-CHP’s approach,” Bugler stated.
1. When configured as a ‘mini home power station’, fuel cells work by taking mains gas and converting it into hydrogen, which then feeds into a hydrogen fuel cell stack. The fuel cell acts like an efficient mini power station which converts the hydrogen into low-cost electrical power and heat, both of which can be used by the home. With this approach, households benefit from an efficient home energy system which generates much of their electricity, hot water and some of their heating needs, too.