Ulster University’s SPIRE 2 project will focus on how the variability of electricity, being transferred to the network from increasing quantities of intermittent renewable generation, can be better managed.
The EU-funded cross-border project also aims to find ways of cutting costs, as well as identify new technology developments and concepts. The research will also be looking at the best way to store electricity and heat from residential homes, factories as well as other big industry users such as hospitals, communities and towns.
The project has received €6.7m from the EU’s INTERREG VA programme which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland have also provided funding for the project.
Three research institutes and 14 businesses have joined the project. The partner organisations are Queen’s University Belfast, Strathclyde University, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Arbarr Group, Sunamp, Glen Dimplex, AES Kilroot Power, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Community Energy Scotland, B9 Energy Group, Climote, SSE, Energia, ESB Innovation, Ulster Farmers Union and The Authentic Food Company.
Special EU Programmes Body chief executive Gina McIntyre said that the project ‘has the potential to make a lasting impact within the renewable energy sector’ and will benefit everyone in the region.
Ulster University Centre for Sustainable Technologies director and Spire 2 project leader Neil Hewitt said: “The Spire 2 project will help to deliver (modernisation of energy markets) by looking at how energy storage resources owned by homeowners and businesses can resolve the problem of the variability of output from renewable energy.
“If consumers can store energy effectively, that will allow very high levels of renewables to be integrated into power grids globally, at the same time as putting consumers at the heart of the energy system.”
UK Government’s energy storage plans
The UK Government has just launched the first phase of a £246m battery storage challenge and part of this strategy is to get consumers to generate, store and consume their own energy.
Project Leader Professor Neil Hewitt, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at Ulster University said: “The announcement by Business Secretary Greg Clark outlines how the UK Government intends to stimulate a drastic modernisation of energy markets.
“The SPIRE 2 project will help to deliver this by looking at how energy storage resources owned by homeowners and businesses can resolve the problem of the variability of output from renewable energy. If consumers can store energy effectively, that will allow very high levels of renewables to be integrated into power grids globally, at the same time as putting consumers at the heart of the energy system.”