Belfast Telegraph

Solar switch is a cool idea

Innovative Ulster firm scores with new eco-control system

By David Elliot

Northern Ireland's expertise in renewable energy is continuing to grow with the help of a Newtownards company.

CoolSky, a firm formed in 2009 by a group of technicians, has developed a control system for solar thermal heating which is finding demand across the globe.

The system has been developed from the team's wide experience in renewable energy, particularly solar thermal systems for heating hot water.

The firm identified a market opportunity for a device that would be easier to fit and use by installers, maintenance staff and owners, and took advantage of an Invest NI Innovation Voucher to develop and test the device.

CoolSky's Kathy McVeigh said: "Our controller has been designed to make installing, maintaining and operating solar heating systems easier than ever before and thereby to encourage more people to opt for this form of renewable energy.

"Our knowledge of the industry enabled us to identify a significant market opportunity for a 'plug and play' controller that was reliable and easy to operate. All solar controllers presently available are technically complex and aimed at the sophisticated German market.

"What we have achieved, assisted by the (University of Ulster) School of the Built Environment through the innovation voucher is the development of a solar controller that requires no monitoring and no complicated set-up.

"Its unique feature is the user interface, which clearly helps both installer and user to understand the function and status of their solar hot water systems.

"This is achieved through visual imaging, a design feature which makes the understanding of the controller intuitive."

Olive Hill, Invest NI's Director of Technology, said: "This a timely innovation in an industry which has been developing steadily and is poised for growth in line with the increasing focus in the UK, Europe and other parts of the world on renewable technologies."

She added: "The company has used the Innovation Voucher scheme to ensure the new device meets the exacting performance targets they have set before its market launch."