AN exciting opportunity for energy storage innovators in Ireland has opened. SMEs developing energy
storage solutions can 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.
3cea’s EU Projects Manager, Michael Doran for STEPS commented:
“As electricity becomes a more significant part of our energy mix, the requirement to be able to store
electricity will become increasingly important. 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.)
Colin Healy, EU Communications Officer for 3cea explains:
“There are two large obstacles for most SMEs to overcome. 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:
1. 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.
2. Exploring regional energy regulation and legislation to help SMEs tailor their solutions to
foreign market conditions.
Through STEPS, SME’s 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.
Paddy Phelan, CEO of 3cea and President of the Irish Energy Storage Association concludes:
“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.”
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.
3 Counties Energy Agency (3cea) is a one-stop shop committed to driving social and behavioural
change in Ireland towards a low carbon economy in line with the Climate Action Plan 2030. The nonprofit, independent energy agency drives sustainable energy projects in Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford
and Wexford. Its role is to educate energy users to increase their energy efficiency by providing
practical assistance to homeowners, businesses, local authorities, transport providers, farmers,
communities and clubs to achieve evidence-based change towards that goal.
Wexford County Council opened its new building, which was designed by Robin Lee Architecture, in
2011 and received a Civic Trust Award in 2012. The facility is equipped with a Building Energy
Management System (BeMS) with a 10kWp PV system installed on the roof of the building. Therefore,
Wexford County Hall is a viable Testbed for energy storage, testing and familiarisation with battery