Monday, 14 July 2014

Call for innovative communal electric vehicle charging solutions

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) in co-operation with Enterprise Ireland and ESB have launched Ireland’s first Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) competition. The competition’s first target is smart solutions for charging Electric Vehicles (EVs) in communal parking areas such as apartment blocks for which up to €200,000 will be made available to develop the prototype.

Pictured at the launch are Dr Brian Motherway, Chief Executive of SEAI, John McSweeney, Head of Innovation at ESB, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte T.D. and Tom Kelly, Divisional Manager at Enterprise Ireland.

Any proposed solution should be adaptable to cater for underground, multi-storey or other privately run car park developments where EV owners will require access to charging facilities. ESB is currently installing home charge points in private driveways for EV owners. However, challenges have arisen where EV owners live in apartment dwellings with parking spaces remote from the meter point. This SBIR competition aims to develop an innovative solution in this area.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte T.D. said: “I welcome this approach of agency collaboration to stimulate innovative research. This is a practical problem that needs to be solved and an example of the enterprise opportunities in sustainable energy. I encourage Irish businesses to get involved and share their ideas to make electric vehicles a more viable transport option for all.”

Welcoming the new initiative Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr Richard Bruton T.D. said:“Driving increased business activity in sustainable energy products and services is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs. Initiatives such as SBIR are all part of our campaign to get more businesses devising creative solutions that not only provide cost efficient innovative services but also help create new jobs.’’

Commenting Dr Brian Motherway, Chief Executive of SEAI said: “In the sustainable energy sector we’re constantly looking for new technologies and more efficient ways of doing things. This competition enables such exciting research and innovation by supporting businesses to develop the technologies that will become part of our future charging solutions for electric vehicles.“

John McSweeney, Head of Innovation at ESB said: “It is critical that the charging infrastructure to support the widespread adoption of EVs is capable of meeting the needs of all car owners, including apartment dwellers. Without the ability to give people living in apartments access to a private charge point linked to their own power supply, the uptake of EVs will naturally be limited. This innovative competition structure allows us to directly access the brain power and enterprise of Irish SME sector to find a solution to what is currently a global problem.”

Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland, added: “Enterprise Ireland greatly welcomes the opportunity to work with the SEAI and ESB Networks in supporting this important new initiative. This is a great opportunity for SMEs to develop highly innovative solutions for the public sector with potential to sell globally, leading to job creation.”

Full details on the call are available on