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An innovative new research project which will examine how wind energy is stored and managed has been launched at Titanic Belfast.

Through the SPIRE energy project, researchers from the University of Ulster and Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) will examine the likely market scales of different capacities of wind energy storage, on the all-Ireland energy market. The project is being backed with £2.9 million of financial assistance from the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme.

Speaking in support of the launch, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: “This is a very worthwhile project that will examine the way in which we control and store electricity across Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. This will help to support the development of the renewable energy sector and contribute to our ambitious targets as outlined in the Strategic Energy Framework, as well as reducing reliance on more expensive and limited natural resources.”

Speaking at the launch Alastair Ross MLA, Assembly Private Secretary said: “The SPIRE project is a great example of how we are utilising EU funding to assist in the development of pioneering energy research projects that can have a real and lasting impact. We see daily the challenges of ever rising energy costs and their impact on business competitiveness and I welcome this research that may ultimately assist businesses to ensure their own security of energy supply and decrease their overall costs.”

Professor Richard Barnett, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ulster said: “The University is renowned for its research excellence and has been at the forefront of sustainable, renewable technology development for many years. This latest Ulster research project, which is benefitting from valuable INTERREG support and collaboration with DkIT, has the potential to make major progress in the evolving all-island energy market, delivering technological advances which could have international impact.”

Also in attendance was the Republic of Ireland Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd who added: “I am delighted to mark the launch of this interesting and innovative INTERREG project, and I congratulate the promoters for putting it together and obtaining EU funding for it. My own department, along with DETI, are also supporting the project, as we believe it will yield valuable information which will allow us to operate our electricity system in a more efficient way and incorporate more renewable energy on the system. I wish the project every success.”

Welcoming the EU INTERREG IVA funded project Lorraine McCourt, Director with the SEUPB, said: “This is a very exciting and innovative research project which has significant implications on how we store and manage our electricity on both sides of the border. The project has great potential in terms of reducing our reliance upon imported fuels, enhancing the security of our existing energy supply and also supporting the development of the renewable energy sector. I look forward to hearing how it progresses and what findings are produced for small, medium and large-scale energy storage upon its completion,” she continued.

Notes to editors:

The INTERREG IVA Programme is a European Union supported Structural Funds Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) which aims to promote greater territorial cohesion between Northern Ireland, the border region of the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Western Scotland.

SEUPB is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Finance in Ireland. For more information on the SEUPB please visit

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment acts as an accountable department for energy themed projects under Priority 2 of the programme. The Northern Ireland portion of funding for Interreg Energy themed projects is provided by DETI to SEUPB. To date the department has provided approximately £3.8m towards four energy themed projects supported through the INTERREG IVA Programme. This has resulted in a total INTERREG investment of £10.6m.

The University of Ulster is the Lead Partner for the SPIRE project. The project will support researchers from UU’s Centre for Sustainable Technologies alongside those of its Ireland partner, the Centre for Renewable Energy at Dundalk Institute of Technology (CREDIT) to examine the likely market scales of different capacities of energy storage on the all-Ireland energy market.