SUNAMP, the renewable energy business headed by technology entrepreneur Andrew Bissell, is closing in on the first round of raising up to £1.5 million as it prepares to begin shipping its heat storage batteries early next year.
Founded in 2006, the East Lothian firm has so far been funded by a mixture of grants, loans and private investment totalling about £3m. Bissell sold his previous company, 3D medical imaging firm Voxar, for £23m in 2004.
His latest venture will begin shipping its first product, SunampPV, in the first quarter of next year. This allows homes with photovoltaic solar panels to store excess energy for later use, rather than sending it back to the grid. SunampStack, a heat storage system that has been running in Bissell’s home for the past year, will begin commercial shipments in the second quarter.
The firm is now looking to raise its first substantial outside investment, and is targeting between £1m and £1.5m. The first tranche is expected to close next month, with the remainder to follow in the first quarter of next year.
Sunamp uses phase change materials, which absorb or release heat when changing from solids to liquids, to make better use of renewable energy. Developed with chemistry professor Colin Pulham from Edinburgh University, its patented technology stores heat until it is needed to warm a building or its water supply.
“There is twice as much heat consumed in the UK as there is electricity,” Bissell said. “It made sense to focus on heat storage, because so many people were already looking at electricity storage.”
In a government-sponsored trial with Berwickshire Housing Association, SunampStack has cut by half the bills in seven homes previously heated for the most part by electricity.
This month, the company was named one of the winners in RBS Innovation Gateway, an initiative to help the banking group cut down on energy, water and waste.
Bissell set up the firm, which has 15 staff, after deciding he wanted “to do something about climate change”. “The way I change the world is through business,” he said.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE SCOTSMAN’S BUSINESS BRIEFING