Magazine Feature

This article was originally featured in the edition: 2018 Issue I

€6.1 Million Supercluster To "˜power' Renewables Across Ireland And Scotland


Powering a renewable future: Pictured (L-R) Alistair Quinn, Renewable Engine Programme Manager, Rachel Coulter, Post-Doctoral Researcher at South West College and Paul Boylan, Programme Manager at SEUPB.

A major four-year research project aims to ramp up the commercialisation of new products and processes across the renewable energy sector in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland

"˜Renewable engine', a ground-breaking cross-border research and innovation "˜supercluster' which will deliver focused research and innovation support to companies specialising in renewable energy and advanced manufacturing and engineering across Ireland and Scotland, was officially launched 28 November 2017.

Supported by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) as part of its INTEREG VA programme, the four-year "˜Renewable Engine' project will see companies such as Kingspan, CDEnviro, Organic Power and Doosan Babcock paired with 12 specialist PhD researchers.

The project's unique industry-academic collaborative emphasis aims to spearhead innovation in the renewable energy sector by giving companies access to world class facilities and resources available through academic partners.

Of the €6.1m assigned to the pioneering project, €5.8m of the funding has come from SEUPB, with the remainder to be provided by the Department for the Economy NI and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.

Led by South West College, "˜Renewable Engine' project partners include Queen's University Belfast, Institute of Technology Sligo, University of Strathclyde, Manufacturing NI, Action Renewables and Mid Ulster Council who will facilitate direct knowledge transfer, technology development and innovation across the initiative.

Education, training and professional support will be provided by the globally-recognised Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (CREST) at South West College, the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen's University Belfast, the Precision Engineering, Materials & Manufacturing Research Centre at IT Sligo and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult at the Advanced Forming Research Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Illustrating the calibre of the partners involved, the Advanced Forming Research Centre is already world renowned for its links to global industry leaders such as Boeing and Rolls-Royce.

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the SEUPB said: "This project will help to address the low levels of industry relevant Research and Innovation within the renewable energy sector and help participating firms become more innovation active. It will provide companies, on a cross-border basis, with access to world-class facilities and resources and in doing so help to realise one of the core objectives of the EU's INTERREG VA Programme."

The four-year project will be implemented across Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and Western Scotland and aims to generate almost 60 years' worth of industry-relevant research developed at PhD level and above.

Speaking at the launch at South West College's Dungannon campus, Alistair Quinn, Renewable Engine Programme Manager, said: "Innovation, often driven by market need and technological advancement, is almost always created within commercially-focused, forward-thinking companies "“ but not every company has the dedicated research and collaborative support it needs to advance this in a way or within a timescale they would like.

"The Renewable Engine project will effectively plug this gap, delivering focused and committed talent, education and skills to a range of areas that will propel projects forward and generate a range of benefits to the companies themselves, while advancing our competitive strengths in this area for the best economic advantage.

"For us to successfully compete, grow and build on our strengths in renewable energy and in manufacturing, a full 360-degree focus on innovation, research and delivery is key. This dedicated focus will ensure we can advance quickly in these key market areas."

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