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Energy firm set to create 700 new jobs in Ipswich through launch of ‘game-changing’ gas boiler

10:21 31 October 2014

Flow Energy chief executive Tony Stiff stands by the boiler that could revolutionise heating.

Flow Energy chief executive Tony Stiff stands by the boiler that could revolutionise heating.

An Ipswich-based energy firm plans to create around 700 jobs over the next two to three years as it launches a revolutionary new gas boiler.

Felaw Maltings-based Flow Energy, which sells gas and electricity to householders, says it will be expanding its Suffolk sales and backroom staff workforce following the launch of its new electricity-creating ‘mini power station’ for the home in January.

An American manufacturing giant, Jabil, will be making the boilers for Flow in Livingstone, Scotland, and the first of these should roll off the production line in about a fortnight.

Flow boss Tony Stiff said the product will revolutionise the heating market in the UK.

“It’s a world first. It’s a game-changing product,” he said. “It’s a gas boiler. It looks like a gas boiler, but when it runs it generates electricity as well.”

The company, which has a research and development site in Chester, bought the patent for the product from America about 10 years ago.

It developed the idea at a cost of about £60million, and a year ago, Westerfield-based Mr Stiff, who started out as its commercial director, set up a 100-strong sales operation from a standing start in Ipswich. He felt the town was the ideal base for the operation because of its strong energy sales sector and established skills base.

Because of the high cost of the first boilers to come off the production line, Flow has decided to offer suitable householders a deal whereby they pay their own installation costs, but the company will foot the bill for the boiler through a finance arrangement. The customer buys electricity from the company under a contract which has got the thumbs-up from energy watchdog Ofgem.

Because the boilers are doubling as electricity generators, they will consume slightly more gas than a modern boiler when they are operating, and this is expected to increase the annual bill by about £40.

“It reduces carbon by about 20% in your home,” said Mr Stiff. “It’s not a renewable technology. It’s using gas, but it uses gas far more efficiently then we would in a power station.”

He added: “If you have a million of these units installed, you would have a couple of the large power stations that you would would not need. We think this will increase the security of supply in the UK and will enable us to help UK plc as well as the customer.”

16 comments

  • Flow have arrangements with major companies in Europe and the USA. Not to mention Calor Gas here in the UK (I understand that both Scotland and East Anglia are in the UK) Not everyone has the luxury of mains gas, and a lot of people in rural USA are off grid. Millions in Europe use bottled gas. The costs benefits for consumers stack up even more in that situation, so this will go global and even if the boiler gets made in the USA under licence their will be a heck of a lot of boilers sold and all those royalty payments earned. That will allow Flow to develop a combi boiler for smaller properties as at present the boiler is only really cost effective if you have a 4 bedroom house or a large old and draughty 3 bed. Good comments from PSL, Flow is better than what we already have but yes it would be great to see a biomass version, if only I could connect the electrify generator up to my woodburning stove! I have PV panels, so if I get a Flow boiler it will just be another meter in the cupboard to register the electricity generation for the feed in tarriff. If I can afford it I will purchase outright and therefore be paid the feed in tarriff . But if you choose the free boiler option you have to accept that you do not get something for nothing, therefore the feed in tariff Flow gets pays for your boiler. Will have to see how the options stack up after they do their survey. There was one comment about why do they need to do a survey, if you have any work done on your central heating the plumber is going to have to come out and do a quote, How can they quote you a fitting charge without knowing if the boiler will fit I had a query with Flow regarding meter readings on Friday and got a very polite reply which answered my questions within 12 hours. Would you get that from the big six, would they even bother replying? They are a delight to deal with and their prices are fair.

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    Topicalcat

    Monday, November 3, 2014

  • 700 jobs!! 1,000,000 boliers?? We'll see.

    Report this comment

    Blackeye

    Sunday, November 2, 2014

  • Must admit i'm amazed that people can be so negative about a company creating 700 jobs. Yes a company not an individual. Yes you can buy the boiler outright and yes the company will hopefully make money as if they did'nt they would'nt be creating 700 jobs. Yes they use gas to produce the electric, but what is the cost effective alternative for most consumers. Bio gas equipment is expensive and people tend to go with what they can afford. The Flow boiler is designed to be cost effective for the consumer without them having to spend £3,000 to £4,000 on a new boiler. If you move house during the 5 year term you will have to pay whats left on the lease, however this can be added onto the price of the house as the new owners will be able to claim the FIT payment and have the electricity it produces. As above you can purchase the unit outright so no obligation to use Flow for energy. However I am a Flow customer and they are still cheaper than British Gas who keep pestering me to come back to them. Its a British Company not european or Chinese or Japaneese. Lets suppost it for a change and stop whinging. And yes last time I looked Scotland is still in the UK.

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    bright star

    Sunday, November 2, 2014

  • FOLLOW THAT COMMENT[ well said psl.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

  • CHP is an excellent technology but the fact remains that it still uses a fossil fuel - gas. Any small CHP unit up to 2KkW is eligible to claim the Feed in Tariff at a rate of 13.24pkWh. So any installation that generates electricity will be paid the tariff under FiTs. There is also an additional payment if any electricity generated is exported back to the grid. The proposal by Flow to 'finance' the costs of the boiler needs to be explained in detail. The 'financing' of the boiler will surely be repaid from the revenue received from FiTs, but who will receive the FiTs revenue once the 'finance' has been repaid? Will there be a minimum requirement placed on the homeowner to generate a certain amount of electricity during the term of the 'finance' agreement? After all the more electricity that is generated the quicker the 'finance' will be repaid. Will customers have the option to purchase the CHP unit using their own sources of finance and reclaim the FiTs for themselves, just like Solar PV? How will the company deal with a homeowner that is already claiming FiTs for their Solar PV installation as the CHP unit will also be eligible for the FiT tariff? If a homeowner takes up the 'finance' offer and then sells their home during the term of the finance agreement, how will this situation be addressed? So, the company will finance the CHP unit but make the homeowner pay for installation of the same. Then the company will sell back the electricity generated from the CHP unit AND receive the 13.24pkWh revenue paid from the FiTs. And if any of the CHP generated electricity is exported back to the gird, the company also gets an additional payment - a double pay day for the company, and in some cases maybe even a triple pay day! In reality the homeowner is better off buying the CHP unit outright or arranging finance themselves and then claiming the FiTs for themselves, and also claim any additional payments that they may get for any excess electricity that is generated and exported back to the grid. As I have said, CHP is a great technology but the fact remains that it is using a fossil fuel and the cost of this fossil fuel will only continue to rise in the years to come. And for electricity to be generated the unit needs to generate heat, so when the central heating is on the unit will generate electricity as well as heat. When the unit is switched off it will not generate heat or electricity, so in the summer months, when most homes central heating systems are switched off, how will that impact on the 'finance' package. And you will still need to use electricity during the summer months. What would be truly revolutionary would be a domestic biomass CHP unit - one that uses a renewable fuel source to generate electricity.

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    Philip.R.Smith-Lawrence

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

  • It would have been nice to create manufacturing jobs locally but the production of the boilers is outsourced so the boilers are being built where Jabil already have a factory. I can see even more jobs being created locally over the years though. This is going to be a great success I repeat by the way the way that I do not work for Flow I am just a very happy customer and shareholder who has been following this companies progress for years and waiting to get my hands on a boiler when they are released

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    Topicalcat

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

  • why not build them in ipswich ? is scotland in the uk? the 700 could be salesmen.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

  • i switched to Flow energy as my supplier because, per moneysavingexpert.com it was the CHEAPEST supplier. The service is excellent as you would expect from friendly Suffolk staff. So far so good. Comment has been made about the cost of developing this boiler, well it does have to pass all the safety standards for one thing, would you want a boiler that was not safe? Even though the technology is in theory simple (rankin cycle - more commonly know as a fridge) it has taken many years to reach this stage. I know because I have been waiting for 4 years now for this to come to the market. During that time and watching all the developments has convinced me that this company will be a major world player in this technology. So rather than bash them for wanting to make a profit (after all no one would lend them money unless they saw a profit) why not applaud them for making something in the UK which will become a world beater? Why are we Brits so good at denigrating our achievements? This boiler is way less complicated and less expensive to make than the Baxi Ecogen (Stirling cycle engine) I was quoted £8k to have one of those fitted several years ago, I declined. If you do not want the lease option you can buy one, there are 3 options. I have solar PV for summer generation, income £1600, which is more than my combined gas & electric Bill. The natural and sensible next step is a flow boiler for the winter to generate electricity whenever I turn the boiler on. I am not employed by flow but I am a Flow customer and do have Flow shares in my ISA, so I have no problem with them making a profit, and providing me with a very good deal on my energy charges and I hope supplying me with a new Flow boiler for a similar price to a conventional boiler. What is there not to like?

    Report this comment

    Topicalcat

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

  • Far to little information on their web site. It is just advertising material What little facts they give is you don't but the boiler but it is bought under a finance agreement presumably you pay a higher charge for your gas and electricity to cover the costs. It also uses more gas. How much electricity it produces they do not state but to produce electricity the boiler needs to be running Another concern is they have to do a survey of your home which tends to indicate at best the savings are marginal It is not something I would consider

    Report this comment

    BobE

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

  • What they really mean is 'cheap labour' due to the shockingly low wages in this area. We can make even more profit!

    Report this comment

    Happy

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

  • So, what sort of company is he running? I hope its not another 700 telesales pests which at current ring me no less than 3 times per week offering me a free boiler (that I am clearly not eligible for). Considering tensions are high with Russia who pretty much could stop, reduce or push up prices of, gas, this innovative idea is probably not as clever as he thinks it is. Oh, and gas is highly explosive and carbon monoxide deadly. Besides I think he lost the concept of power stations, regardless of the technologies used, power stations are deliberately ran inefficiently producing more power than needed to prevent Joe Bloggs taking out a county's power by simply putting the kettle on! It seems a bizarre concept where you are expected to utilise your boiler as much as possible to generate electricity which the energy firm can sell to the national grid to finance your boiler. So you are probably mandated to use it for a minimal amount per year or pay higher prices. I think it makes more sense to buy an affordable modern boiler without strings attached. Is £60m a typo? An awful lot of money to combine a boiler and power generating turbine together!

    Report this comment

    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

  • It might increase your gas bill by £40 but because it generates electricity it reduces your electricity consumption by a lot more than that. I think the reporter did not fully understand

    Report this comment

    Topicalcat

    Friday, October 31, 2014

  • Its no good to me if it decrease the carbon by 20 percent and increase my bill by £40 ,,,,needs to be the opposite , Buenos notches amigo

    Report this comment

    Roadrunner

    Friday, October 31, 2014

  • What a clever idea. Well done, I hope it takes off.

    Report this comment

    Waddaloada

    Friday, October 31, 2014

  • "He added: “If you have a million of these units installed, you would have a couple of the large power stations that you would would not need. We think this will increase the security of supply in the UK and will enable us to help UK plc as well as the customer.”" So it helps the UK as a whole and the customers. Great. But we should not forget it also helps the owner of the business to make lots of cash. And he can thank the local papers for his free ad.

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Friday, October 31, 2014

  • Similar to the Baxi Ecogen?

    Report this comment

    Blackeye

    Friday, October 31, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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