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16/09/2021

Opportunity for Kilkenny SMEs with boost for Ireland’s energy storage market

3cea call for applications to grow energy storage with STEPS Programme

KILKENNY

Solar panels

An opportunity for energy storage innovators in Ireland has opened, with SMEs developing energy storage solutions able to apply for the free support programme via www.stepsnwe-application.com.

The STEPS Business Support Programme is coordinated by 3 Counties Energy Agency (3cea) and aims to address the lack of competitiveness for battery storage solutions in Northwest Europe, including Ireland. It combines business support and mentoring with access to real-life testing. 

“As electricity becomes a more significant part of our energy mix, the requirement to be able to store electricity will become increasingly important," says 3cea’s EU Projects Manager, Michael Doran for STEPS.

"Energy storage is another way that SMEs can reduce their energy costs and increase their efficiency if they can access systems which provide low-cost electricity when they need it.”

Currently, many SMEs in the area have developed effective and sustainable storage solutions but have difficulty validating their products and bringing them to market. As a result, 80 per cent of the mid-size battery storage market in the EU is supplied from outside Europe. STEPS aims to increase Europe’s competitiveness in this sector by supporting storage device technology SMEs at the development stage. (Products already available on the market are not eligible.)

“There are two large obstacles for most SMEs to overcome," Colin Healy, EU Communications Officer for 3cea explains.

"The first is limited access to testbeds. Testbeds help emerging energy storage companies to get their product to the commercial standard and often takes several years to develop. The second obstacle is the fragmented regulation in the EU. Each country has its own energy market regulations which influence products’ technical specifications and the potential profitability of the business.” 

The free STEPS business support programme will resolve this with a two-pronged approach:

By giving SMEs access to a testbed. Having access to testing sites is crucial for any SME’s pathway to the market, and to drive innovation and job creation.
Exploring regional energy regulation and legislation to help SMEs tailor their solutions to foreign market conditions.

Through STEPS, SMEs will gain advice on entering new markets in Northwest Europe, engage with potential end-users, and increase the awareness of solution providers. Going further, STEPS will connect providers of new e-storage solutions with end-users via a business support programme to increase their technological readiness level (TRL) through real-life testing.

“At 3cea we work with SMEs to build a cleaner, more sustainable future across a range of projects and believe they should be given the tools needed to succeed and accelerate the green transition. That’s why we are offering the STEPS Business Support Programme support to e-storage SMEs across Ireland and we welcome enquiries from businesses," says Paddy Phelan, CEO of 3cea and President of the Irish Energy Storage Association.

An Irish energy company, Cleantech Renewable Energy Ltd based Clonmel, Tipperary was successful in the first STEPS call in January 2021. Under the STEPS voucher one scheme, Cleantech got support (valued at €12,000) from the international expertise of the Knowledge Partners (NUIG, Ireland and TU Darmstadt, Germany) to tailor their battery storage. Six months later, Cleantech is now being considered for the second voucher support. The second voucher will include a bursary of €50,000 to implement tailored products at the testbed and develop a key understanding of how to position their products in the Irish marketplace and beyond. Wexford County Hall will be the testbed centre should Cleantech be successful in the second funding round.

Steps is an Interreg-funded project which intends to accelerate energy sustainability on both a local and global scale. Ireland has been assigned €1,194,410 of the total €5M budget for the overall Interreg Northwest Europe project. 

For terms and conditions visit www.stepsnwe- application.com |www.3cea.ie.

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