The Renewable Energy Hub at the Birr Technology Centre has been officially opened by Minister Pippa Hackett.

The hub has been founded by Birr Technology Centre with a focus on creating a cluster of local and international renewable energy companies to be based at the location. 

The hub is in the centre's Enterprise Building, which is receiving a deep energy retrofit and is being upgraded so as to utilise renewable sources of energy.

Minister Hackett said the hub has the potential to become a beacon in Ireland for cutting-edge renewable energy projects. “To my mind, there is no better place to have that beacon than in Offaly; a county at the heart of the midlands, leading the way forward in the brown to green transition.”

She said the Green party in government is committed to supporting new green jobs, sustainable transport and the development of green energy in those communities most affected by decarbonisation, and the establishment of the Renewable Energy Hub in Birr serves to bolster that commitment.

Massive energy price shocks

Denis Madden, CEO of European Tech Hubs and owner of Birr Technology Centre said:”We do this against the backdrop of massive energy price shocks last year and the necessity to greatly reduce our use of fossil fuels.

"The midlands in particular are affected by the transition to cleaner and greener sources of energy. It is appropriate therefore that we open this Hub in Birr, in the heart of the midlands.

"We are promoting the establishment here of firms with local, national and international ambitions. We are similarly interested in attracting and providing a supportive environment for overseas renewable energy technology companies to develop their technology here, and address the Irish and European market from here. The market is expanding very rapidly and a local presence and commitment will support their expansion." 

Showcase current technologies

He added that the tech centre was built by Shannon Development in the 1980s for small businesses and startups. “After more than 40 years it was time to upgrade the building to modern standards and use renewable energy sources. We will showcase current technologies and pilot new technologies here.

"Historically the property operated as a water powered flour mill and later sawmill. The old mill was rebuilt in 2003 as a state-of-the-art technology building. Our objective ultimately is to run a zero-carbon innovation park here.”

Offaly Local Development Company offices are located beside the new Renewable Energy Hub and CEO Brendan O´Loughlin remarked at the launch that Birr was at the centre now of very considerable wind and solar investments. “Offaly is very quickly becoming the most significant region for renewable energy generation. With its central location it offers great access for companies choosing to locate here.”

Denis Madden spoke of the initiatives to export offshore green hydrogen to mainland Europe. He said Birr has a long tradition in innovation in energy and sciences, and the objective of the new hub will be to tap into these traditions.