Becoming an entrepreneur can be challenging, therefore it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. Most business owners now recognise the importance of energy efficiency measures and sourcing renewable energy where possible. This is due to the cost savings these options can offer, allowing businesses to reinvest in other activities. Saving 20% on your energy bills can generate returns which are equivalent to a 5% increase in sales1.. Additionally, as consumers are becoming more environmentally aware, there are increasing expectations on suppliers, across all sectors, to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, particularly in relation to renewable energy.
A survey completed by Orsted, highlighted that 73% 2. of consumers would choose a retailer that used renewable energy over one that didn’t. Improving your reputation and becoming environmentally conscious needn’t be something that will interrupt or hinder your businesses operations – it can significantly increase your competitiveness.
Committing to renewable energy:
- Businesses who want to commit to renewable energy can do so through Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) either from an electricity supplier or direct engagement with a renewable electricity generator, in more recent times this has been referred to as a Corporate Power Purchase Agreement.
- Alternatively, a business can invest in renewable technology to generate renewable electricity, which satisfies either part or all the businesses electricity demand. On a global scale, RE100 is a collaborative initiative, which some of the world’s most influential companies have joined and committed to 100% renewable electricity. Companies who have committed to RE100 primarily adopt the methods mentioned above to ensure they achieve their targets.
With a steady uptake of ‘green procurement’, which focuses on sourcing and purchasing products and services that use fewer resources and minimises their impact on the environment, there is certainly reason to get your business ‘going green’. In Northern Ireland, the ‘Sustainable Development strategy’ recognises the importance of responsible procurement in the public sector to ensure the effective and efficient use of resources. This was developed to select suppliers who have a sound environmental standing. Therefore, with environmental awareness and targets only set to increase in the future, it stands to sense for businesses to begin exploring their options in relation to sourcing renewable energy, if they have not already done so. This will enable them to ensure business operation remains competitive.
1 https://www.carbontrust.com/resources/guides/energy-efficiency/better-business-guide-to- energy-saving/
EcoSmart External Insulation Ltd. is an energy efficiency company based in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon in the West of Ireland. EcoSmart External Insulation Ltd. provides external insulation services nationwide to all parts of Ireland. The owners of EcoSmart External Insulation Ltd. are both from an engineering and architectural background and initially formed a partnership in 2009, after working together since 2007 on construction projects using Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF).
As a result of the economic downturn and subsequent changes in the construction industry in Ireland, the partners decided to continue working together and focus on renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency in construction. In 2011, they formed a partnership with a UK construction company and formed a new company Cara EcoSmart Ltd. where they were worked on projects in the UK funded by the Green Deal Scheme. Cara EcoSmart Ltd. required a robust quality assurance system, and adopted and modified one which was used by other partners in the company. This knowledge transfer proved very valuable when tendering for contracts in Ireland.
In 2013, they formed EcoSmart External Insulation Ltd., and the construction sector slowly started recovering in early 2014 with people investing more on home improvements. The SEAI reintroduced and increased grant funding to approximately €4,500. This depended on the scale of energy efficiency measures undertaken. The availability of this grant made a very big difference in the mentality of people and they were prepared to undertake energy efficiency upgrades.
This project was a demonstration project under the GREAT Project (Growing Renewable Energy Applications and Technologies) which is an EU funded project under the INTERREG IVB NWE Programme. GREAT aimed to encourage communities and small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) to develop technological solutions for Smart Grid, Renewable Energy and Distributive Generation; to research and develop policy issues for regulatory authorities and to provide structured co-operation opportunities between SMEs and research institutes / technology developers.
Údarás Na Gaeltachta was lead partner on the GREAT Project, with two full-time staff allocated to the co-ordination and implementation of their project aims. Each Leim Enterprise Centre was selected as a demonstration site. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) also provided funding for this demonstration project under the Better Energy Communities (BEC) programme, and Údarás Na Gaeltachta utilized the expertise available in the SEAI in the development of the smart grid.
The FREED project is inviting applications from companies to develop innovative energy technologies. Aimed at businesses that are currently active in the Energy Technology sector, FREED are offering financial support to develop and take innovative energy technologies to commercialization. A maximum sum of €30,000 per innovation may be made available to successful applicants as well as in-kind support offering incubation capabilities, market access and unique access to private investment. Each innovative technology selected will be promoted through the project across the partner region in the Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) area.
Information on each country specific tender call can be found on the FREED website below:
Candidates are to submit technology innovation proposals, which address identified challenges in the following areas:
- Intelligent grid (IoT): including but not restricted to smart illumination; 5G solutions; electrical and heat distribution networks; intelligent energy systems; remotely controllable loads; distributed grid management; power electronics; “virtual” power stations; demand side & control system management; upgraded power grid; solutions for zero-emission zones in smart cities; data analysis, integrated computerised maintenance management systems (CMMS), decentralised and off-grid solutions
- Energy storage: including but not restricted to advanced battery technology; energy for transport sector; thermal energy storage, hydrogen energy storage; hybrid energy storage systems, domestic and commercial scale heat recovery systems; small scale solar PV with integrated battery storage, decentralised and off-grid solutions
- Smart and efficient buildings and environment: including but not restricted to ultra-energy efficient building management solutions and services; BMS and metering technologies; ICT solutions to encourage monitoring; smart HVAC linked to renewable energy; smart temp and humidity control for built heritage sites; energy cost reduction technology for water treatment
- Renewable energies: including but not restricted to solar PV, anaerobic digestion, bioenergy and related supply chains inc. biomass CHP; marine and hydro renewable energy; 2nd generation biofuels; technology to increase usage of on-site renewables; advanced heat pumps, solar thermal, decentralised and off-grid solutions
A condition of being awarded the contract is that technology development and the commercial development of the output must take place in the NPA region, as defined by the European Union Interreg Programme.
FREED (Funding Resources for Innovation in Energy Enterprise Development) a three year project funded under Interregs Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA). FREED will support existing and start-up SME’s to utilise and develop innovative energy technologies as viable business offerings. The project, which is led by the University of Oulu in Finland, is a collaborative partnership involving private investment firms, R&D institutions, colleges of education and public bodies from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Norway, The United Kingdom, Germany and Ireland. For further information about FREED please visit the project website http://www.freedproject.eu/