UU leads on cross-border energy storage project

Prof Neil Hewitt with UU Pro-vice Chancellor, prof Cathy Gormley-Heenan
Prof Neil Hewitt with UU Pro-vice Chancellor, prof Cathy Gormley-Heenan

Ulster University has launched an EU-funded €6.7 million (£6m) cross-border research project to develop a range of consumer-owned energy storage resources to meet current and future electricity market needs.

SPIRE 2 has received funding from the EU’s INTERREG VA programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. It is one of three Ulster University research projects to have secured €23 million as part of a recent SEUPB funding round.

The project involves collaboration between Ulster University, three research institutes and 14 businesses via a cross-border Virtual Research Graduate School.

“This is an innovative cross-border collaborative project which has the potential to make a lasting impact within the renewable energy sector, to benefit everyone in this region,” said SEUPB CEO Gina McIntyre.

“The EU INTERREG VA Programme recognises the tremendous growth potential of this sector, leading to new commercial opportunities that will enhance the local economy. The funding offer includes financial support from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.”

Project leader prof Neil Hewitt, director of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at the university, said: “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.”

“The project will create 17 PhD studentships and will further develop six post-doctoral researchers.

“By creating this supply of highly-educated developers, able to transform research ideas into commercial reality, SPIRE 2 will also contribute to local economic growth.”