Planning has been approved by Donegal County Council for two renewable, solar powered, electric vehicle charging stations with additional energy storage capacity at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) campus car park, opposite the main college building.

One of first third level campuses to showcase renewables

The pioneering project, which is funded under the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, project SMARTrenew, is aimed at showcasing renewable energy in the community as well as tackling Ireland’s lagging performance in the transition to the electrification of transport. The pilot will see LYIT become one of the first third level campuses to showcase renewable powered, on-site, EV charging infrastructure in Ireland. 

Led by the WiSAR Lab at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology, SMARTrenew is funded under the EU Interreg, Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014 – 2020, with an allocated budget of €1.6 million. The primary objective of SMARTrenew is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of renewable energy sources and implement innovative and sustainable energy storage solutions through transnational co-operation in the partner regions Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Iceland, and Finland. 

Leader of project SMARTrenew and academic director of the WiSAR Lab, Dr Nick Timmons said that the slow uptake of electric vehicles was a particular challenge in rural Ireland: “While a recent report by the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) scored Ireland favourably in overall readiness to meet our ambitious 2030 decarbonisation targets, strong concerns were highlighted regarding our adoption of electric vehicles.

"In fact, the report ranked Ireland joint last in the implementation of EV charging infrastructure across 12 EU countries. The issue is amplified in rural Ireland with most of the existing charging facilities clustered around urban areas.

“In the northwest, we are also heavily reliant on private transport with recent data from the Western Development Commission revealing that 38.1% of Donegal households have at least two cars, so this pilot aims to tackle a number of challenges simultaneously.

'Solar array combined with battery storage'

“The project, conducted under SMARTrenew, will showcase a solar array combined with battery storage to facilitate slow charging stations, aimed at the all-day electric vehicle parker, powered by renewable energy. Furthermore, a display meter dashboard will be installed inside the main LYIT building, which will showcase to staff, students and other stakeholders, the power savings and usage of the facilities over the project lifespan, highlighting the cost benefit analysis.

“This pilot project will not only serve to facilitate the transition to electric vehicles in the northwest, but it will also showcase the benefits of renewable energy and energy storage in the wider community. 

“With the number of electric vehicles on Irish roads set to significantly expand in the coming years, the rapid roll-out of EV charging infrastructure is crucial. Ireland has pledged carbon neutrality by 2050, and central to realising those ambitions will be improving energy efficiency, increasing the uptake of renewable energy, and accelerating the decarbonisation of transport."

The LYIT EV charging pilot will be presented by Dr Nick Timmons at the SMARTrenew virtual Pilot Showcase Event on December 2, at 1pm.  

Registration for the Showcase event can be made at 

To find out more about project SMARTrenew visit