Friday 22 March 2019

Inventor links with builders to cut housing power costs

Firms seek savings to meet new home energy rules, writes John Reynolds

John Quinn, founder of solar firm Photonomi
John Quinn, founder of solar firm Photonomi

Inventor John Quinn's daylight power firm Photonomi - which is backed by former ESB boss Padraig McManus - is in talks with housebuilders about deals to install hundreds of its Hone daylight power systems for heating, power and electric car charging.

New regulations that come into force on March 31 mean that builders of new homes are seeking ways to save on building costs that could rise by up to 22pc, the firm claims.

The regulations mean that achieving the new A2 'nZEB' (net Zero Energy Build) rating requires heat pumps and solar power that add to build costs.

Quinn's Photonomi claims its Hone thermal-electric systems eliminate the need for a heat pump and other equipment and materials, saving builders up to €10,000 per home, while achieving an A1 energy rating, which is greener than the new A2 standard. The firm, which has a technology centre in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, has signed a deal with Kildare builder Fernside Homes. Fernside is building 72 homes in Co Offaly, aiming to build up to 150 more in further phases, with more intended to follow.

Quinn said he is in talks with other builders about installing hundreds more of the systems. It's understood that the issue of cost as a consequence of the new regulations is particularly concerning to builders outside Dublin, who cannot charge as much for homes as those in the capital.

Photonomi has almost 14,000 of its Hone systems - which use nanotechnology to convert daylight into thermal, cooling and electrical renewable power - installed in over 11,500 locations in 14 countries around the world. Some are at commercial and multi-building scale.

The firm employs 48 people here and 75 abroad, Quinn said. It has invested €4m here in the business in the last 18 months.

Indirect employment is growing here as external installers of its systems employ more people, growing from a base of up to 40 installation staff currently, he added.

Last year building costs rose by between 2.9pc and 7.5pc, according to figures from builders Cairn Homes and Glenveagh and surveyors Linesight.

Consultants Mitchell McDermott said in a report that building costs will rise between 6pc and 7pc this year.

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