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Sustainable Energy Generation for Rural Communities

28 May 2010

THE Ulster Business School at the University of Ulster is a key partner in a two year research study funded by the European Union to assist communities to find alternative energy solutions and reduce their dependency on fossil fuels.

Called the SMALLEST project, the scheme is a €3m EU-funded three year initiative designed to stimulate interest among rural communities of the benefits of converting from traditional energy generation to renewable energy generation.

The project was launched today at an event in the ECOS Centre, Ballymena, addressed by renewable energy experts including :

·       Nick Lyth, Director of International Resources and Recycling Institute, Edinburgh, who delivered a keynote at the launch event.

·       Professor Neil Hewitt, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, University of Ulster

·       Terry Waugh, Action Renewables

·       Lynsey McKitterick, Research Associate, University of Ulster

·       Ann McNickle, Causeway Rural and Urban Network (CRUN).

Derek Bond Dr Elaine Ramsey and Dr Norry McBride of the project team were also present to brief stakehodlers and delegates.

The  new service will assist rural communities by increasing their awareness of the potential benefits of renewable energy generation for their community; assisting with the planning and helping to reveal the commercial feasibility of renewable energy generation; and improving the skills provision required to support renewable energy generation.

The SMALLEST project will also establish a service in Northern Ireland to raise the scale and quality of training, mentoring and support for rural communities needed to help them convert from traditional energy generation to renewable energy generation.

SMALLEST will add value by integrating with existing advisory services, filling gaps in community training and mentoring for conversion to renewable energy generation, and providing supporting business modelling solutions relating to renewable energy generation for communities.

The project is keen to make a contribution to the evolution of government policy in the area of sustainable and renewable technologies in Northern Ireland, said the SMALLEST project’s Lynsey McKitterick:

"We will be aiming to work with SMEs and the community sector, to join with us in helping the sector develop and use renewable energy technologies.

“It’s important for us to establish what the state of play is at the moment. We suspect that the use of renewable energies, particularly in the community sector is quite limited – and we plan to change that.”

Notes for editors

There are nine partners in the SMALLEST project:

International Resources and Recycling Institute

University of Ulster

Action Renewables

Development Centre, East Iceland

Inverness College
Fglafjardar Kommuna

Pure Energy Centre
Norso Kommun

North Karelia University of Applied Sciences

More info at