Researching a green future with Credit Technology Gateway
LIWC consult with Credit Technology Gateway for technological expertise and support with research and development for Island micro-distillery plans.
Based at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT), Credit is part of the 16 strong network of Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateways located around the country.
“Technology Gateways have been around since 2013 and work in partnership with institutes of technology and technological universities across Ireland,” says Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway program manager Mark Whelan.
Organised in three sectoral clusters – applied IoT; engineering, materials and design; and food technology – the network delivers innovation, expertise and solutions for the Irish industry.
“Credit is the latest gateway in the network,” Whelan adds. “The idea of the network is that if one gateway doesn’t have the full range of skills or expertise required for a project, other gateways can provide them, and the client gets a seamless service with one point of contact. For example, if another Gateway has a project with a renewable energy component to it, they can go to Credit for expertise in that area.”
The overall objective is to increase the level of interaction and engagement between industry and the institutes of technology and technological universities. “The State has invested a lot of money in the research capability of these institutions, and we want the industry to come in and utilise it. We want to help industry innovate, become more competitive, enter new markets, and create new jobs.”
According to Credit manager Dominic McLarnon, the gateway provides technology expertise on energy optimisation, renewables, and storage solutions for the close-to-market needs of the business. “We do that by leveraging funding from Enterprise Ireland. We would typically use Innovation Vouchers to help companies dip their toes in the water. Credit is a good place to come to test and try out new ideas. There is no better place to mess things up. Companies can let us take the pain away for them and take risk out of the process. We build relationships with companies and become an extension of their R&D operations.”
Lambay Irish Whiskey Company
The gateway recently deployed its expertise to assist Lambay Irish Whiskey Company with its plans to distill a pure green whiskey utilising renewable energy. Lambay is a partnership between the Lambay Estate Company and the French cognac distiller Camus. The company currently produces three whiskeys and exports to more than 30 markets worldwide.
However, at present the whiskey is distilled on the mainland using water from Lambay Island. It is then transported back to the island for aging in Camus cognac casks. The company has plans to build a new distillery on the island this year but faces a particular energy challenge as the island is not connected to the electricity grid.
“The island sources most of its electrical power from wind and solar installations, with a backup generator,” explains Dr Paul MacArtain, a senior researcher with DKIT working with the Credit Gateway. “They also use battery storage to maintain supply when there is little wind or sun.”
With demand likely to increase significantly following the construction of the new distillery, the company turned to Credit to undertake an energy appraisal of the current loads and to forecast future loads and possible energy supplies including a battery storage system. As a result, Lambay Whiskey now has an energy baseline for the island and knows the impact that the new distillery will have. The project also revealed that the existing battery storage system was weakening and needed replacement.
That knowledge is very important. “The company wants the distillery to run on electricity. That’s relatively rare,” says MacArtain. “They are usually run on gas or LPG. The aim is to have it run entirely on renewables.”
That will create challenges in the future, MacArtain adds. “They already have a 6kw wind turbine but the whole island is a designated special area of conservation and a Natura 2000 site, so they are not going to be able to put a big wind turbine there. One option is to look at tidal energy. It’s extremely predictable and reproduceable.”
Storage solutions represent another area of research for Credit. “Storage will become even more important in future as people will look to generate as much energy on their side of the meter as possible,” he notes
Electricity isn’t the only area of focus. “We recently received funding from Enterprise Ireland for thermal storage research. We are looking at mobile heat storage which you can bring from place to place to where it’s needed. Electricity is easy to transport but hard to store. Heat is relatively easy to store but difficult to transport. We are looking at solutions for that.”
McLarnon encourages companies to engage with Credit as early as possible. “We can provide a whole network of supports and become a very important development partner for them. We can also offer access to the other 15 gateways in the network. www.creditgateway.ie