Based in Spiddle, Galway, Kildare native Ronan Purcell returned from Sydney to establish Fort Energy, a specialist energy firm supporting business and government sectors.
Ronan Purcell, founder of Fort Energy, is a recent alumni of the Irish Government’s Back for Business programme.
The Back for Business programme was created in 2018 to foster and support entrepreneurial activity among Irish emigrants returning to Ireland. Now in its seventh year, Back for Business has helped entrepreneurs to significantly grow sales and employment.
“I am very passionate about energy. I love working in this sector and see huge opportunities. It’s an exciting and impactful space to be in”
Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Back for Business is seeking up to 50 applicants from returned and returning Irish emigrants that wish to start and develop businesses in Ireland. They are invited to apply to participate in the development programme which is tailored to their needs. There is no cost to those selected.
This cycle will run from February to June 2024. The closing date for applications is 5pm on Monday 15 January 2024. Those interested in learning more about applying for Back for Business 7 can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application form by visiting Back for Business.
Ronan Purcell, a native of Athy in Co Kildare, and his wife Tara left Ireland in search of adventure in 2011 after Ronan had spent over a decade as an officer in the Irish Defence Forces.
The pair chose Australia as their destination because Tara could transfer there with the global company she worked for in Dublin, and a new life in Sydney began.
Ronan had qualified as an electrical engineer while in the army and he was keen to experience a technical engineering role as well as finding out what it would be like working in the private sector.
“I got a job with a commercial solar start up. I came in under the two founders and took charge of their operations,” he says.
Over the next decade, Ronan worked in senior positions for the largest energy company in Australia, where he set up new business units in the renewable space; and for the State Government of New South Wales, where he worked directly for the Minister for Energy and helped with the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy generation.
The couple decided to move back to Ireland in 2021 when the eldest of their three sons was ready to start school and Ronan set up Fort Energy, a specialist energy advisor and renewable energy developer.
They moved to Galway, where Tara is from, and have been delighted with their decision. “It’s brilliant being back and reconnecting with friends and being closer to family,” Ronan says.
Fort Energy provides independent energy analysis, auditing, and advice to improve energy efficiency, lower energy costs and reduce carbon emissions. It also develops and operates on site renewable energy assets such as solar PV, battery energy storage systems and EV charging stations.
“I always had a desire to set up my own business. I felt I had developed the necessary skill set, and I am very passionate about energy. I love working in this sector and see huge opportunities. It’s an exciting and impactful space to be in,” Ronan says.
As well as offering consultancy and advisory services, Ronan is also in the process of developing an energy management platform that will enable clients to get a better understanding of how they are using energy so they can be more efficient.
Initially, Ronan found the process of setting up a business here challenging. “In Australia I knew and understood the market,” he says. “I had a great network of contacts and then came back to Ireland with none of that. That was a huge challenge, but I kept working at it through developing my network, analysing the market and leveraging support like the Back for Business programme.”
Ronan says Back for Business was a brilliant help to his business for several reasons including the high-quality mentorship, the professional advice that was brought in by the organisers, the accountability and having the opportunity to pitch his business offering to fellow entrepreneurs.
Having recently expanded his staff, Ronan’s plans for the future of Fort Energy are to grow the advisory, consultancy and project management side of the business with more hires within the next 12 months and to launch and further develop the energy management platform.