A Portadown-based company has launched a new heating system set to be installed in almost every social housing development in the UK.
The Glen Dimplex Group says that the development of Quantum system – set to replace Economy 7 storage heating – will help to directly support 37 new jobs and, as the market for this product develops, there is potential to generate up to 200 manufacturing jobs in the next few years.
The company has also predicted that if 50% of the two million electrically-heated homes in the UK converted to Quantum, the resulting job creation in the wider economy would be 3,000 jobs per annum for 10 years.
Quantum is the largest single investment by the group in its history in one piece of technology, with £8.5m invested over two years.
The research and development for Quantum was driven by Glen Dimplex company, Seagoe Technologies, in Portadown, which is also where the product will be manufactured to be exported worldwide
The factory is set to manufacture a minimum of 10,000 units of the Quantum heating system before the end of 2013.
The Quantum Energy System provides a more energy efficient and more controllable heating system that still utilises off-peak heating and uniquely, has the ability to store energy which is of use to utilities companies
The company also claims the new product will help to alleviate fuel poverty and hopes that in future, homeowners can generate income by storing energy for the utility companies
Through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, 50 homes in Whitehead are about to installed with 300 units of Quantum, while installations are under way in Ireland, the Shetland Islands, North Eastern Canada, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Japan.
Glen Dimplex in Portadown is set to manufacture a minimum of 20,000 units of the Quantum heating system before the end of 2013 and worldwide patents have been applied for.
Neil Stewart, managing director of Dimplex Renewables, said that tests in the field and by Strathclyde University have already shown that Quantum has the potential to deliver energy savings of 20% and a 25% reduction in heating bills for individual homeowners which, in turn, will help to alleviate fuel poverty.
"Fuel poverty is a very real issue today and we know that with the introduction of Quantum, homeowners will experience lower electricity bills," he said.
"Looking to the future, we believe that home owners will be able to generate income by storing energy for the utility companies – that's the long-term goal."
The development of Quantum was supported by SSE, formerly Scottish and Southern Energy and parent company of Airtricity.
David Manning, director of corporate affairs SSE Ireland, added: "We have been working alongside Glen Dimplex to help the company to trial Quantum and to measure its real cost and environmental savings. Currently we have a project in the Shetland Islands involving 750 homes, which are being installed with Quantum electric space heaters and water cylinders."
Founded in 1973, Glen Dimplex is a leading international group with annual revenues in excess of £2bn and more than 10,000 employees across four continents. It is the world's largest manufacturer of electrical heating. Northern Ireland operations collectively employ around 500 people. Invest NI has offered £157,000 to support the project, which includes part-funding from the European Regional Development Fund and an additional £195,000 to support capital investment and associated creation of new jobs. Minister Arlene Foster said: "The creation of 37 advanced manufacturing jobs is welcome news for the sector and will help to deliver an additional £500,000 annually in salaries into the local economy."