Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 70

Submission from Disenco Energy plc




    —  Domestic & Commercial gas boiler converts waste heat into electricity.

    —  Produces 12 to 18 kW thermal and up to 3kW electricity.

    —  Simultaneous, local generation of heat and electricity from a single fuel source appliance.

    —  Greater than 92% efficiency.

    —  Patented technology.

    —  GAD Approved (Gas Appliance Directive).

    —  Reduces Energy Costs.

    —  Reduces Carbon Footprint.

    —  Reduces Emissions.

    —  Potential Grid Independence.

    —  Compact 800mm x 600mm x 600mm.

    —  Rapid incremental payback in 4 years without subsidies.

    —  Annual energy savings between 25% to 35%.

    —  Reduces carbon footprint by up to 67%.

    —  Meets 50% of average electrical demand.

    —  Meets 70% of peak electrical demand.

    —  Excess power exported and sold to the Grid.

    —  Addressable UK market of 1.2 million units per annum.

    —  World market of >14.4 million units per year.

    —  No planning permission issues.

    —  Performance is not dependant on Wind or Sunshine.

    —  UK Carbon Footprint 560 million Tonnes—27% in housing = 151 million Tonnes per annum.

    —  Fully installed this technology could reduce UK Carbon by up to 100 million Tonnes per annum.

    —  Technology satisfies environmental commitments.

    —  Key component of Carbon Neutral housing.

    —  Level One housing moves to level four on application of the technology.

    —  Potential for renewable variants, Solar, Bio and Wood Pellet.


  Disenco Energy plc is a small start up company based in Sheffield, England, which has developed and is in the process of commercialising a revolutionary, carbon-footprint-reducing appliance called the "HomePowerPlant" (HPP). The appliance is a patented micro Combined Heat and Power (m-CHP) unit that simultaneously generates heat and electricity at efficiency levels in excess of 92%. The appliance modulates and produces between 12kW to 18 kW thermal (heat) and up to 3kW electrical energy. While producing all of the heat and on average 50% of the electricity required by the home it has the potential to reduce the average domestic property's annual carbon emissions by nearly 70%, from 6 tonnes to 2 tonnes per annum, while reducing combined energy costs by between 25% to 35%. This disruptive technology is a significant carbon footprint and energy cost reducing solution for new and existing domestic properties and small to medium enterprises, that can materially impact our global energy and emissions targets today. M-CHP technology fully installed could reduce the UK's 563 tonnes annual footprint by up to 100 tonnes per annum. The widespread adoption of this technology provides a solution to both energy and carbon issues without the need for costly rebuilding programmes. Future planned developments include Wood Pellet, Bio and Solar variants.

1.1  Company History

  The Stirling Engine based m-CHP appliance was initially developed in Sweden in the 1980's and subsequently by the Norwegian company Sigma, over a 15 year period to the early 2000s. In 2003 Sigma and its associated Intellectual Property was sold and Disenco Ltd established in its current research and development facilities in Sheffield. From 2003 to the present day Disenco has proceeded to further develop the technology and commercialise their HPP appliance utilising a strong network of British engineering partners, with the original Norwegian engineering base acting as m-CHP consultants. The HPP appliance first received Gas Appliance Directive (GAD) approval for installation in a domestic environment in June 2006 and subsequently embarked on a series of field trials, two in association with the Carbon Trust Field Trial monitoring scheme. These trials have performed to expectation and were completed, over a 15 month period, in December 2007. Disenco is currently testing its first production tooled appliances with its engineering partners, Prodrive, Enertek and Sentec. Initial product availability is expected in Q3 2008. The development of additional saleable units and renewable energy powered devices are planned following the launch of the current single appliance.


2.1  Product Overview

  The size of the appliance is currently 800(h) x 600(w) x 600(d) mm, designed to fit under a standard work surface. It is expected to be further reduced to 800(h) x 450(w) x 500(d) mm. The simultaneous nominal output of the appliance is 15kW thermal energy and 3kW electrical energy from approximately 20kW input of either natural gas or LPG. The appliance modulates extremely well enabling accurate matching to a wide range of thermal loads. The total appliance efficiency is in excess of 90%, split 75% thermal efficiency and 15% electrical efficiency, confirmed by GAD approval. The appliance uses a beta type Stirling engine and therefore benefits from low noise and vibration characteristics, making it suitable for installation in a domestic property.

  Electrical output is by way of power electronics and can be adjusted to suit the application whether three phase, single phase or a variety of frequencies and voltages. Thermal to electrical loads of up to 1:4 are achievable. Power factor correction is not required as the unit will run at or close to unity or a PF of one.

  Running for an average of six hours per day in a domestic setting, gives estimated savings of £500 per year and up to 4 tonnes of CO2 per year. As feeder tariffs for electrical export increase the energy savings are expected to rise significantly, further shortening incremental payback periods to below four years.

  Commercial usage of the device in SME applications would be expected to make significantly greater carbon and energy savings due to their enhanced thermal loads and run times during the 24 hour day.

2.2  Development Concept & Partners

  Disenco, in association with its British engineering partners, has completely redesigned the prototype Norwegian (176b) Stirling engine while maintaining its performance specifications. The main design changes incorporated in the new pre-production engine, the AP0, have resulted in impressive weight, size, component lead time, part count and cost reductions. These reductions will be further enhanced by intelligent design changes in the control, power electronics and the Disenco HPP appliance carcass.

  An important differentiator from other m-CHP technologies is the traditional robust design of the appliance, leading to a low part count and clear read across to existing high volume products already in manufacture. This gives a strong base for low cost and high quality in production.

2.2.1  Prodrive

  Prodrive, a British company, is one of the world's leading motor-sport and automotive groups. The company's global operations have a turnover in excess of £110 million and employ nearly 900 staff (of which 60% are qualified to degree or relevant job level qualifications) in the UK, North America, Germany, Thailand and Australia. In motor-sport, Prodrive is the world's largest independent business with involvement in various international race and rally series. In recent years, Prodrive Automotive Technology division has grown dramatically and now represents half the group's business. Working with vehicle manufacturers and their Tier 1 suppliers, it has become a recognised leader in chassis dynamics, engines, power trains and, engine management/control systems.

  Prodrive has applied innovation and pragmatic use of the latest engine technology to deliver an efficient, reliable and commercially viable Stirling engine for the Disenco HPP appliance.

2.2.2  Enertek

  Enertek is an independent British company specialising in the research, design, development and certification of gas, oil and electrical appliances. They have a close working relationship with Certification Bodies, such as Advantica, Loughborough. This was the key to the initial GAD approval for the 176B field-trial appliance. Enertek are providing the HPP gas side combustion design, building, packaging, modification, testing and field-trial support. The company is also collating data on the 176B and AP0 engines.

2.2.3  Sentec

  Sentec is a British company that specialises in electronic research and product development to an international group of clients giving them market advantage through technical advancement. The company is engineering the power electronics and control systems for the Disenco HPP appliance.

2.2.4  Intellectual property

  Disenco owns all of the IP for its appliance and has a number of key patents protecting its technology. New patents are applied for on a regular basis with all rights under its engineering partners reverting to sole ownership of Disenco Energy plc.

2.3  Market size

  The world market is extremely large as indicated in the table below:


Global Domestic Boiler market in millions of units per year

The UK
Netherlands and Germany (0.4/0.8 respectively)
Western Europe (Balance)
South Korea
North America (Canada & Mexico including furnaces)
Total global domestic boiler market in millions of units per year

Source: BSRIA survey 2003-06

2.4  Disenco Current Status

    —  The Norwegian engineering knowledge has been transferred to the British based engineering partners.

    —  A commercial viable Disenco m-CHP engine and combustion system is under test at Prodrive, Kenilworth and is performing to expectations.

    —  Enertek are continuing to enhance and commercialise the combustion system to exceed SEDBUK A rated standards.

    —  Sentec are developing the power electronics, which enables the HPP connection to the grid. (G83 interface), the appliance controls and user interface.

    —  Disenco has in place memorandums of understanding with their initial manufacturing partners, Autocraft and Malvern Boilers. An initial European supply chain has been established.

    —  The internal quality management system is being implemented under the guidance of BSI.

2.5  Energy and Carbon Savings

  M-CHP is an emerging technology with the potential to provide significant carbon savings in both commercial and domestic environments. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems provide potential reductions in carbon emissions and costs by generating both heat and electricity locally with efficient use of fuel and by offsetting the use of centrally-generated electricity from the grid.

  Centrally generated power is only between 31% and 48% efficient due central and distribution losses in the grid infrastructure. When compared to local power generation at 90% the gains for the environment and the end user are vast.

  A level one house on current building regulations could achieve level four status and 2012 targets by installing a m-CHP unit of this capacity.

  There has been much interest in producing m-CHP systems for use in small commercial and domestic environments. The Disenco HPP appliance is designed as a reliable and a cost-effective system developed for such applications, this offers significant savings relative to conventional systems, such as condensing boilers and grid-supplied electricity.

  Significantly many existing premises have little chance of reducing their carbon footprint and energy costs after adopting standard insulation improvements. Planning restrictions and location often negate the effective use of high payback technologies such as solar and wind. m-CHP has the potential to assist under these circumstances as it does not require planning consent and its performance is not weather dependant.

  This technology is available now and is a strong and credible interim solution to our current global emissions targets. It is critical that this technology comes to market in its current gas powered format so that the next generation of renewable powered appliance may be successfully developed in its wake.

2.5.1  Green Technologies

  "In response to the threat of climate change the UK Government has committed to a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 relative to 1990 levels. Reductions in the range of 26-32% by 2020 are also expected under the Climate Change Bill".

  To reduce carbon emissions and help deliver the UK's Climate Change Programme, the Government has a target, reconfirmed in the 2004 CHP Strategy, of achieving at least 10,000 MWe of Good Quality CHP capacity by the end of 2010.

  By generating electricity as well as providing heat, and thus reducing the need for centrally-generated grid electricity, m-CHP offers significant clean potential for reductions in carbon emissions and associated cost savings today.

    —  Clean Micro Combined Heat and Power (m-CHP)

    At current the majority of m-CHP appliances are powered by natural gas, which provides a good, highly efficient interim solution. Due to the depletion of natural gas and the medium term need for renewable technology other thermal energy sources are being considered. It is therefore expected that future Disenco Stirling engines and associate appliances will be designed to accept a variety of clean genuinely renewable fuel sources to power the appliance.

    These are expected to include, but not limited to:

    Bio gas.

    Wood chip (eg short rotation coppice).

    Liquid bio fuels (eg oil from plants).

    Solar (Disenco existing Patented Hot Platelet End—Heater Head).

    In essence any renewable heat source can be considered, as a Stirling engine simply requires heat to function.

    —  Photovoltaic (PV) This technology uses energy for the sun to produce electricity. It can complement m-CHP by providing clean electricity throughout the summer months, when the demand for heat is less for an m-CHP. However, electrical output from PV cells is likely to be much lower in the winter months when electrical demand is at its highest. The size of the PV cells array is comparatively large for the amount of electricity produced.

    —  Solar (thermal)

    Similar to PV (above) this technology uses the suns energy to produce warm water for a domestic and central heating. Like PV it provides most of its useful output in the summer months when actual demand for its output is at it lowest. Purchase costs are high and payback long.

    —  Wind

    Electricity is generated through turbines which harness the wind.

Production is entirely weather dependant and therefore may not follow the electrical demands of the home. Also, careful site selection is the key to ensuring the turbines produce a reasonable amount of electrical energy. Existing planning issues have made mass implementation difficult. Whilst capital cost can be low payback is long. Peak performance of domestic plant is only achieved at levels that constitute a severe weather warning in terms of wind speed. In addition noise can be prohibitive.

    —  Ground Source Heat Pumps

    Pipes are placed underground to harness the energy stored within the earth. The heated water from these pipes tends to be too cool to use for domestic hot water (DHW) and central heating. Therefore, installations tend to be limited to new or retro fitted under floor heating and are not commonly a mass solution.

    —  Nuclear Option

    The current debate is likely to continue for some time and in the event of a positive conclusion in favour of nuclear planning and build programmes are unlikely to impact 2020 targets.

January 2008

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