An interview with Maurizio Zaglio,
Which company are you working for, what is your role/profession and what is the main expertise of your company?
I am the International Business Development Manager at Sunamp. Sunamp is an international company with offices in Scotland (Headquarters), Switzerland, and Canada. We focus on the development of thermal systems based on high energy density, high power density, proprietary latent thermal stores: the Heat Battery. Their big advantages are that they are much smaller than water tanks of equivalent storage capacity, and very powerful, so can provide plenty of hot water to the building. Overall, we aim, through the use of our compact storage, to facilitate the use of unpredictable, intermittent renewable sources of energy, and to fight fuel poverty that is still a major issue even in the most advanced Countries.
What are your products and who are your products´ buyers?
We have various standard products in our catalogue, with a new line being presented in 2018. They are latent thermal stores. They differ from water tanks, commonly used in building as thermal stores, as the storage medium is not water but a phase change material (PCM). PCMs are materials that melt and freeze in a well-defined, tight temperature range. Imagine water freezing and melting at 0°C; by doing that, water can store and release a lot of energy. The same process happens in PCMs, but at different temperatures, lower or higher than 0°C. Today, the PCM that we mainly use in our products has a phase change temperature of 58°C, ideal for providing hot water and space heating. This is in fact our current market of reference, but we have many other materials that we can use, and we are currently expanding our offer to both cooling storage and high temperature storage. Sunamp Heat Batteries are highly flexible, modular, scalable, and we have so far used them with a multitude of energy sources, both thermal and electric. Principally, our products’ buyers are home owners interested in increasing the self-consumption of their renewables, e.g. roof-mounted solar PV panels, or to reduce the fuel bills of their homes, or even both. We also have a network of distribution and installation partners. At larger scales, we can deal directly with commercial and industrial applications. Finally, we can also offer tailored services for OEMs and manufacturers that want to include our technology into their offerings, e.g. heat pumps, water heaters, and many more.
What challenges are you currently facing in terms of “energy-efficient” technology?
We strongly believe in distributed energy production. More and more buildings are installing their own source of energy, mainly renewable, but this comes with challenges. For example, the sun does not always shine, and often there is a mismatch between local energy production and consumption, that needs to be satisfied by traditional fossil fuels plants. Storage is recognized to be of paramount importance to overcome this mismatch issue, and we consider our compact, easily installable thermal stores a key player in the energy scenario. People also tend to underrate the importance of thermal energy over electric energy, but, in reality, the final energy consumption of energy as heat far exceeds that as electricity. A de-carbonization of our energy system must therefore also rely on the de-carbonization of our heating systems.
What is your motivation for participating in Heat4Cool project and what are the challenges you are planning to overcome with your (Heat4Cool) products?
Heat4Cool gives us the possibility to demonstrate the feasibility of our technology in different residential buildings, in different European Countries, with different climates and requirements. Through this project, we are providing domestic hot water, space heating, and space cooling by integrating our Heat Batteries to a very smart system composed by solar PV panels and heat pumps. Most importantly, we aim to demonstrate that it is very easy to retrofit existing buildings with this solution, and this is mainly due to the very compact size of the storage.
The main challenge is to come up with a very simple set of solutions, with our partners in the project, that can satisfy the requirements of very different homes, placed in very different climates and we are all working very hard to achieve that.