Post award winners turn up the heat
Jun 21 2007 By John Revill, Business Staff
The sky's the limit for a Midland designer and installer of geothermal heating and cooling systems after the firm won this year's Birmingham Post Business award.
Geothermal International is about to start work on Europe's biggest geothermal system - a 5.5 megawatt project which will provide all the heating and warm water for the new Mansfield Hospital.
The £2 million scheme, which is the biggest of its kind outside North America, has helped the seven-year-old Coventry firm grow into a business with a turnover of £10 million.
In the meantime Geothermal, a specialist in heating and cooling systems that use renewable energy stored in the earth, has increased its staff from seven to 60 with plans for more.
The company, which won the October Birmingham Post Business Award, picked up the annual award from Trade and Regions Minister Margaret Hodge.
Brian Davidson, chief executive of Geothermal, said he was delighted to receive the award at the ceremony held at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham yesterday.
He said: "It is fantastic news for myself and all the people associated with the business.
"It is a very prestigious award and I am very pleased we have won.
"All we have to do is raise awareness about geothermal heating and after that the sky's the limit for us.
"We have done well in the commercial side of the marketplace, but the potential for geothermal heating in residential is absolutely huge."
Geothermal installs pumps that provide heat in winter and cool air in summer by tapping the earth's energy and so eliminate carbon emissions.
Recent UK customers for its systems include the Chelsea Building Society HQ at Cheltenham, police headquarters buildings in Gloucester and Kent, some prisons and a number of schools, including sites in Solihull and Wednesbury.
The company exports to Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Romania, Bosnia and Russia.
The pumps, which are sourced from the US, can cut a building's fuel costs by between up to 70 per cent and drastically reduce carbon emissions.
Mr Davidson said: "We take heat from the ground and put it in the home; the idea is very simple, but it can have a drastic impact on fuel bills and reduce carbon emissions.
"Even if we got only ten per cent of UK households using this system we would reach our carbon emissions targets which is very doubtful at the moment.
"We estimate the pay back on the capital cost of installing this can be made within three to five years."
Mr Davidson, who previously worked at East Midlands Electricity, saw there was a growing need for alternative power source and greater energy efficiencies.
"Now we need to make more people aware of the benefits," he said.
The company's biggest scheme is at the new Mansfield Hospital, where a ground energy system will be installed under a nearby pond in the next two months. He said: "It's fantastic; here is a pond that has been there for 100 years and now the people of Mansfield will be able to use it to heat their hospital."
All 12 monthly winners attended the event, where Mrs Hodge paid tribute to the ingenuity of Midlands businesses.
"It is pleasurable to be in the West Midlands to congratulate and celebrate the best of the region's businesses.
"There are many excellent and successful business and many small and medium sized businesses.
"Their success adds to the strength of the UK economy, with the monthly winners having succeeded in driving growth, exciting innovations or demonstrating enterprise.
"They all share an ability to see an opportunity and seize it."
Mrs Hodge described the strength of the Midlands manufacturing sector was particularly important contribution the UK economy.
The environmental sector, of which Geothermal was part, was also increasingly important and continued to grow, she added.
Sponsors of the awards are Churchill Vintners, Intercity Mobile Communications, with support provided by Biz TV, flybe, Aston Business School, and Champagne Taittinger.
As overall winners, Geothermal received a private two-day visit to Champagne Taittinger's headquarters at Epernay in France, with flights from Flybe.
They also receive two air tickets from Flybe to anywhere in Europe from Birmingham as well as a mobile phone technology system from Intercity Mobile Communications, and a magnum of Champagne.
Warwickshire County Cricket Club provided a private box for a day/night match, while Yorkshire Bank sponsored the awards luncheon.