The Celtic Tiger Stalks the Smart Grid
Ireland’s wild thriving in the 90s I.T. boom earned it the nickname of the Celtic Tiger. Since the I.T. bubble burst, it has suffered the same successive economic ups and downs as the rest of the West and has been hit hard by the most recent financial woes. But it sees a new opportunity in the New Energy economy and is reinventing itself as a pioneer in the coming Smart Grid
“Typically every year Enterprise Ireland would fund about 70 startups,” said Marina Donohoe, the head of Enterprise Ireland’s cleantech sector. “A third of all startups that we have funded so far in 2010 are coming from cleantech industries,” she said. “We had hoped that a tenth of the companies we would have funded would come from cleantech and we’re now at a third.”
Enterprise Ireland is the government agency charged with growing business by providing the money and guidance to get innovative ideas from concept to marketplace. In bringing Ireland back from the brink, its business leaders want to turn the small island nation’s harsh weather and isolated intimacy to its advantage.
“We have a huge wind and wave resource in the country and we have a public aversion to nuclear energy,” said Liam Sweeney, Enterprise Ireland’s Industrial Technologies Commercialisation Specialist. “The government has this target of an average of 40 percent of our electricity to be generated from renewable resources by 2020. That’s mostly wind,” he said. “The challenges and opportunities that that’s going to present on the grid are going to be huge and they haven’t been addressed in other places so far. So Ireland could become sort of a test bed for the integration of a very large percentage of renewables on the grid.”
Many of the startups Enterprise Ireland has been funding and expects to continue funding are developing strategies to make the Smart Grid work, strategies that are – because they are based on the strength and experience of the Celtic Tiger – ahead of things being done anywhere else.
Brendan Dollard, an Enterprise Ireland Senior Technologist, said he is currently seeing a company through the funding process that designs software for grid quality management and another that has software for remote energy management for industrial purposes. Both are needs the Smart Grid will have.
“I think the thing about Enterprise Ireland is that we’re so close to our clients personally. First name close,” Dollard said. “I think that’s a fantastic relationship to have,” Dollard smiled. “We’re well-placed to do that.”
The full-length version of this story will be up at Greentech Media soon.
From EnterpriseIrelandTV via YouTube
Scheduled meetings today:
Morning: Automsoft. This looks to be a classic example of an Irish company putting skills learned in the I.T. and biotech expansions to work doing Smart Grid tricks like Distribution Automation (DA), Smart Meter device integration, Demand Response (DR), Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Smart appliances and Building Energy Management (BEM) Systems.
Late morning: UCD School of Electrical, Electronic & Mechanical Engineering. Some good ideas come from garages but most start in University research programs. University College Dublin (UCD) looks to be an Irish wealth and power cauldron. Msybe a real-life version of Harry Potter's Hogwort's Academy.
Midafternoon: Cylon Controls Ltd. These folks are all about "smart energy control," a subject most U.S. air conditioning addicts seem set on learning about the hard way.
The day may end with a dinner but the Irish are beginning to grasp what a nightmare it is to try and feed NewEnergyNews non-digital, non-New Energy substance. More on this to come.