Irish cleantech start-ups attract the attention of international investors
Over 100 cleantech innovators attended an investment conference in Dublin last week to hear about the opportunities in the sector
The company plans to use the funding to validate its first silicon wafer-processing tool in a production environment, in collaboration with solar energy research institute Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, Germany.
Another project The Green Way is looking at is the development of Dublin as a living lab, where cleantech solutions will be tested, trialled and deployed.
It is helping 10 companies test-bed technologies and services such as smart transport, energy efficiency and waste management, and has already successfully implemented a test bed for Glen Dimplex trialling Quantum technology, which yields about 15 per cent in energy savings to the homeowner.
Meanwhile, companies such as OpenHydro and Nualight are making strides in the tidal power and energy efficient lighting.
It is this innovation that is making investors take note of the Irish sector. Among the investors attending last week’s conference was GreenCoat, ESB’s advisor to its clean tech fund, which is worth about €200 million.
The clean and green tech sector in Ireland is “nascent”, GreenCoat partner John McKiernan said. “As an investment category, it didn’t exist,” he said. “That’s changing.”
In the past decade, the global renewable energy sector has seen growth of five times, to $269 billion. That comes despite the global economic slowdown.
“Wind is taking off, solar has arrived, smart grid is coming. It’s clear that there will be changes in the way electricity is generated, transported and consumed,” he said.
It’s a good sector to be in, it seems.
“Cleantech is a bit like the software industry; it touches most of the other sectors,” Mr McKiernan said.
Although Ireland may not be seen as a major market for renewable energy because of its small population size, it still needs to access the technology to meet its EU targets of 40 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020, in addition to meeting targets in the transport and heating sectors.
In addition to the benefits for Ireland’s energy obligations, it is likely that adopting cleantech solutions could grow for firms into much larger export opportunities.
“We’re not a big enough market to lead all the subsectors in clean tech, but there are some companies that are taking the lead in specific sectors,” Mr McKiernan said, noting Ireland’s expertise in smart grid technologies, among other areas. “If we can crack smart grid, we will have intellectual property we can export across Europe and the planet.”