The SEHP, an industry led panel facilitated by DETI, wished to identify opportunities and niches within the global sustainable energy market, over a timescale of 5 - 20 years, which could be exploited by Northern Ireland’s current and potential science, research and technology capabilities. Orion Innovations was asked to conduct a technology and market foresight study that would map Northern Ireland capabilities against emerging markets and anticipated international market growth in the Sustainable Energy sector, in order to identify areas in which Northern Ireland might become a market leader; and to produce a set of recommendations for effective measures to achieve that objective.
The methodology incorporated desk-based research, extensive stakeholder consultation and regular workshops to ensure agreement and alignment of the SEHP panel. Specific activities included:
· A thorough literature review to ensure that the study capitalised on the body of work that had already been undertaken within the Province, but which was primarily restricted to a short-term focus;
· A detailed assessment of current and emerging capabilities within Northern Ireland, in terms of academic research, private sector technology development, key assets (infrastructure); local deployment potential and Government support programmes. More than 35 organisations were consulted during this process;
· Benchmarking these capabilities against comparable regions around the world, in order to identify Northern Ireland’s strengths and differentiators;
· A global market foresighting analysis, to provide a 5 to 20 year outlook for a comprehensive range of sustainable energy markets, including anticipated demand and technology development requirements, followed by prioritisation for Northern Ireland based on export opportunity; economic return; regional competitive advantage and barriers to entry;
· Development of case studies from Spain, Scotland and Finland, to illustrate best practice in innovation support for new technologies from related sectors;
· Development of a final set of recommendations that included a specific implementation plan, plus actions to optimise communication across the sector; support the local SME-base; build international networks; and develop innovative financing models.
The work identified a compelling opportunity for Northern Ireland to take a leadership role in the development of distributed energy solutions and their integration into Intelligent Energy Systems. The final report was launched by the Enterprise and Energy Minister, Arlene Foster, in April 2013. In response to the report’s recommendations, Invest Northern Ireland immediately announced support for a number of Sustainable Energy collaborative network projects. Further information on this can be found at http://www.investni.com/sustainableenergy and http://www.matrix-ni.org/#/sustainable-energy/4571128041.