GeoZero - Business case study
GeoZero is developing new technology to support the green energy sector in replacing fossil fuels and moving towards zero carbon applications
GeoZero operates from a state-of-the-art production facility in Bromsgrove employing over 200 people. GeoZero is owned by the Excool Group which predominantly deals with cooling data centres.
GeoZero designs, manufactures, installs and maintains ‘heat pumps’ that provide a renewable heat source by circulating water from ground sources through hot water pipes into buildings without burning fossil fuels. The pumps were originally supplied to the agricultural sector for crop drying under a sister company however, the group has moved to apply the technology to the domestic market through GeoZero, where they can generate heating for up to 1000 flats or 500 houses using small, medium and large scale heat pumps.
GeoZero moved into this sector because of the need to ensure energy supplied through renewable energy sources is reliable as well as easily stored and supplied when it’s needed, solving problems associated with the unpredictability of wind energy resulting in a misalignment between generation and demand. It is claimed over £650m has been spent over the past decade in discarding renewable electricity that could not be stored.
“Our aim is to create a system where heat pumps can be deployed to store excess energy in thermal batteries, which can then be used as demand dictates. Our goal is to provide this solution across the domestic market, leading to a more efficient system at a reduced cost to consumers.”
Duncan Wisely, Chief Commercial Officer at GeoZero
GeoZero secured a grant through the help of the Low Carbon Opportunities Programme (LOCOP), allowing the company to team up with the University of Birmingham to utilise their expertise in ‘Phase Change Material’. It enables more compact and cost-effective battery design. The LOCOP support will help the GeoZero get the product accredited and marketed for sale in commercial and residential sectors.
Duncan stated that although renewable technologies are now widely available for use in heating buildings, the UK lags behind countries such as Norway, France and Italy, with only 5% of UK heating being generated through renewables. For instance, one third of Norway’s homes and 95% of new builds use heat pumps. Some of the main barriers to adoption in the UK include the capital cost of equipment, lack of skills and, until recently, the challenges in commissioning new systems. Duncan highlighted the importance of new building regulations such as the ‘Future Home Standard’ which is being introduced by the Government, helping shift the economy towards green energy solutions and overcome the reluctance to invest renewable energy.
“In the next few years people will not be able to use fossil fuels to heat their buildings. As the market for boilers falls, demand will rise for renewable energy sources including heat pumps and GeoZero wants to capture a share of that market.”
Duncan Wisely, Chief Commercial Officer at GeoZero.
GeoZero staff were classed as key workers as coronavirus restrictions were imposed. They kept their data centres running and did not furlough staff. Duncan said “We have a strict regime in the factory and offices, having introduced social distancing before the government guidance came in. We also check staff temperatures as they enter the site; and our staff have been compliant throughout.” Duncan believes remote working is likely to stay and will provide opportunities for the company to offer remote storage solutions and service the growing data centres’ market in their parent company.
Duncan is confident in GeoZero’s prospects due to of its capacity to respond to changing conditions and demands: “We believe that data centres will continue to be a good market for us. Heat pumps and renewable thermal storage is a market that cannot be ignored and will grow at a substantial rate because of the phasing out of fossil fuels and the need for zero carbon applications.”
The company therefore predicts two avenues of sales growth, in addition to data centres at the parent company; heat pumps and thermal batteries which complement each other. These opportunities will create further jobs in the industry and GeoZero have already acquired two new units in Bromsgrove, ready to produce heat pumps and thermal batteries for both the domestic and commercial markets.