Revolutionary energy storage technology being trialled by University of Sheffield engineers

25th September 2023

New energy storage technology, which could significantly reduce household bills and help the UK achieve net zero, is being trialled by researchers from the University of Sheffield.

  • University of Sheffield researchers are testing new energy storage technology that could significantly reduce household bills and help the UK reach net zero
  • Technology stores excess energy when renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are plentiful, so it can be released and used during peak times
  • New systems are being tested by residents living in the University of Nottingham’s Creative Energy Homes - a housing development providing a living test-site for new energy efficient technologies

New energy storage technology, which could significantly reduce household bills and help the UK achieve net zero, is being trialled by researchers from the University of Sheffield.

The technology has been installed at the University of Nottingham’s Creative Energy Homes - a seven-house development that provides a living test-site for new energy efficient technologies.

The trial is the latest step for the Advanced Distributed Storage for Grid Benefit Project (ADSorB) – a consortium led by researchers from the University of Sheffield that is aiming to commercialise the use of new thermal energy storage technologies developed at the University of Loughborough. 

The technologies store excess energy when renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind, are plentiful, so it can be released and used during peak times or to make up for shortfalls in supply. 

The team previously undertook a feasibility study, where they evaluated Thermochemical Storage (TCS), which can offer longer term storage, and Phase Change Material (PCM) technologies, which are more agile and offer shorter term storage. Combined, the two have the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions, provide a more flexible approach to renewable energy storage and support the UK’s net zero ambitions. 

These technologies have since been developed and adapted to become modular thermal energy stores that can be slotted into homes alongside the household’s existing energy system – whether that’s as part of a retrofit or within a new build. These prototypes have been installed for the residents living at Nottingham’s test site.

Dr Rob Barthorpe, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: 

“This is an exciting milestone to have reached and we are now looking forward to generating the data, and creating an evidence base to demonstrate the benefit that distributed energy storage can provide. We hope this will validate our modelling that showed not only consumer benefits through reduced bills, but grid and carbon reduction benefits that will make significant contributions to the UK’s net zero goals.”

Alongside Sheffield, the project team is made up of researchers from Nottingham and Loughborough universities, as well as Mixergy – the market leader in innovative, grid-connected hot water storage.

Mark Gillott, Professor of Sustainable Design at the University of Nottingham, said: 

“Soaring household bills have been hitting headlines for months as the cost-of-living crisis continues. Therefore, finding an effective alternative has never been more important. Thermal energy storage has the potential to solve two issues in one – not only is it cost effective, but it also removes renewable energy’s dependency on specific weather conditions.   

“This is the first of two installations scheduled to take place at Nottingham this year. We’ve started with PCM technology and will follow with TCS later on in autumn, which will provide us with comparable data for both types of technology. By undertaking these trials at lived-in homes, we’ll be able to provide accurate results that will allow us to scale up the technology and bring it to market as quickly as possible.”

One of the two houses where the trials are taking place is currently occupied by Komal Siwach and her family. She said: 

“We’ve been living in our Creative Energy Home since 2019, and we’re really excited to be part of the first phase of installations as heat pumps are more efficient than more conventional boilers and furnaces. I’m expecting this will lower our energy bills by between 30 per cent and 40 per cent.”

The £2.6m project is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through the Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration programme, part of the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).

For more information about the ADSorB Project, please visit: https://adsorb.ac.uk/ 

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