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Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator (SHED)

The Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator in Margam is a 1990’s industrial unit that is used to trial novel low carbon heating systems. It has been heated without gas since 2012.

The building is fitted with two large-scale solar heat storage demonstrators, and a new heating system installed in 2023 is trialling the use of a carbon dioxide heat pump for space heating.

The space at the SHED is also used for a variety of other collaborative projects to develop innovative low carbon energy technologies.


Two Tata Steel Colorcoat Renew SC® solar air collectors generate heat for the building using solar thermal energy – one is on the south-west facade and the other on the roof.

The collector on the facade is approximately 590m2 and supplies heat directly into the building or to a large water tank, which stores the thermal energy for use the following day. Gas consumption was eliminated as a result of installing this system in 2012, with an estimated energy saving of 75%.

The collector on the roof supplies an inter-seasonal heat store, which stores thermal energy from the summer sun for use in winter. The heat is stored in a SIM (salt in matrix) thermochemical material being developed by our Thermal Storage research team. The SIM material can store heat indefinitely.


In 2023 a new heating system was installed in the upstairs offices at the SHED, using heat supplied by a carbon dioxide heat pump.

Carbon dioxide heat pumps are commonly used in commercial water heating applications such as swimming pools and hotels. They operate at a higher temperature than other air source heat pumps, which provides many potential benefits to their use for space heating, for example removing the need to replace existing radiators in older buildings. However, they are not currently used for space heating applications due to the need to accurately control return temperatures.

The new carbon dioxide heat pump at the SHED will be trialled with different control strategies and a range of heaters in each of the offices.


The SHED is used by Rotaheat, who we have been supporting to develop their innovative system converting motive power (mechanical rotational energy) directly into clean heat. 

You can also find a wide range of other projects there, including the Transport for Wales’ Active Train Shelter and a test-rig to analyse five commercially available PV and solar thermal technologies.

Could your business use the space at the SHED or our expertise?  Find out more about working with us or get in touch.