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Cheaper, cleaner, smarter: OVO and Sunamp secure funding to transform how we heat our homes

  • OVO, and  Sunamp, have been awarded £1.6million of grant funding from the Government’s Low Carbon Heating Technology Fund for a collaborative Zero Carbon Home project.
  • The project, led by OVO, combines OVO’s smart, energy management platform, VCharge, with Sunamp’s groundbreaking UniQ Heat Batteries.
  • By combining both technologies, domestic customers will be able to heat their homes with electricity using cheap renewable energy at off peak times, and store it to release heat on demand whenever it’s needed.
  • The project will develop and test the feasibility of bringing smart electric central heating to the mass market and demonstrate that, combined with renewable energy, these technologies provide a practical and low cost solution to creating Zero Carbon Homes.  

London, 20 December 2018 - OVO and Sunamp’s Zero Carbon Home project has secured £1.6million in Government funding to develop a commercially viable smart electric central heating system. The project brings together OVO’s intelligent energy management platform, VCharge, with Sunamp’s connected, super compact heat batteries which can store four times more heat than hot water tanks of the same size. 

The proposed system uses Sunamp’s high energy density, high power density UniQ heat batteries to store heat generated from cheap, renewable electricity either via a heat pump or direct electric heater. A drop-in replacement for hot water cylinder and gas fired boilers, the system will be controlled by VCharge, OVO’s intelligent energy management software that will optimise charging to use cheaper, renewable energy when it’s available.  

VCharge aggregates stored energy, creating a Virtual Power Plant energy load that could provide grid services. Revenue can be earned through these grid services, and by sharing this value with consumers, and by buying only clean, off-peak energy, the running costs and lifetime costs of the system could be lower than those of gas heating.

90% of UK homes rely on burning natural gas for heating and collectively this represents over 25% of UK carbon emissions.  

By making zero carbon electric heating commercially viable for the first time, the proposed system takes a significant step on the pathway to the decarbonisation of heat. 

Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry said:

“By replacing fossil fuels with smart heating systems we have the potential to cut carbon emissions and save consumers money on their heating bills.
“This £1.6 million grant to develop a commercially viable smart electric central heating system is part of our commitment to fund the cutting-edge industries of the future through our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Toby Ferenczi, Director of Strategy, OVO said:

“Replacing a gas-boiler with a smart electric system is the most practical and low cost way to decarbonise heating. 

“By combining VCharge and Sunamp’s UniQ Heat Batteries, power can be drawn down according to the needs of the grid, resulting in running costs comparable to gas heating systems but without carbon emissions.  

“A recent study by Imperial College and OVO showed that smart, flexible residential technologies such as this could save the UK up to £6.9bn per year. 

“We are excited to work with Sunamp to develop this game-changing smart electric heat solution.”

Andrew Bissell, CEO, Sunamp said:
“It’s a fact that 81% of energy used in UK homes is for heating and we are delighted to team up with the UK’s leading independent energy supplier and bring our UniQ heat batteries together with OVO’s Time of Use technology - to help consumers take advantage of the cheapest electricity prices available for their heating. 
“We aim to develop an accessible heating solution to deliver heating and hot water on demand and improve levels of comfort and lower fuel costs, energy consumption and carbon emissions in homes everywhere.”


For media enquiries please contact: 

OVO media office:
[email protected] or 0203 697 6375.

Sunamp media office:
[email protected] or 07801 710360.

About OVO
OVO is the UK’s largest independent energy technology company and supplier. Across the group, OVO serves more than 1.1 million customers with intelligent energy services and other home services. Founded in 2009 by Stephen Fitzpatrick, OVO redesigned the energy experience to be fairer, greener and simpler for all. Today OVO is no longer simply an energy retail business: it is group of innovative, dynamic companies, all striving to harness technological advances with great consumer propositions to deliver affordable, clean energy to everyone.

About VCharge
One of the first systems of its kind, VCharge is a highly scalable, intelligent technology platform that captures the value of flexibility present in all energy resources.

VCharge remotely connects distributed flexible electrical devices (electric vehicles, home batteries, storage heaters) enabling the UK grid to symbiotically react to changes in demand and supply.

VCharge recognises system stress from national to micro-regional levels and responds to changing conditions within seconds. From managing demand at peak times to providing highly responsive grid balancing services for multiple devices and appliances.

About Sunamp
Sunamp designs and produces super compact heat batteries which store available energy as heat and release it when it is required, thus overcoming the intermittent nature of many other renewable energy sources. The technology is based on phase change materials (PCM) to provide a clean, efficient and cost-effective heat energy storage solution. Working with multiple energy sources, including solar and heat pumps, the company’s UniQ range of heat batteries has the potential to make conventional hot water cylinders obsolete and delivers cascades of hot water and highly responsive space heating with proven savings of up to 75% on utility bills. The technology offers limitless scalability for residential, commercial or industrial projects.

About the Low Carbon Heating Technology Innovation Fund
The objective of the Low Carbon Heating Technology Innovation Fund is to support, through capital grants provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the development and demonstration of innovative technologies and processes for producing better ways of providing low carbon heat in existing buildings.

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