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(opens in a new window)NexSys:Defining pathways to a net zero energy system

NexSys (Next Generation Energy Systems) is an ambitious multidisciplinary energy research programme (2022-26). It is hosted by the UCD Energy Institute in partnership with eight other leading research institutions:  DCU, ESRI, Maynooth University, University of Galway, Queen's University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, UCC and Ulster University.

NexSys is an All-Island partnership with a team of 51 leading academics. It has received €16 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), 9 industry partners and one philanthropic donor.

who nexsys is comprised of

Lead Researchers: Prof Andrew Keane (UCD)  Prof Eoin Casey (UCD), Assoc Prof Terence O’Donnell (UCD), Assoc Prof Eoghan Clifford (NUIG), Dr Muireann Lynch (ESRI), Prof Francesco Pilla (UCD), Asst Prof Páraic Carroll (UCD), Assoc Prof Vikram Pakrashi (UCD), Asst Prof Julie Byrne (UCD), Prof Lisa Ryan (UCD)

Participating Research Institutions: ESRI, DCU, NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, UCC, UCD, Ulster University, Queen's University Belfast, Maynooth University

Funding Body: Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Strategic Partnership Programme.

Philanthropic Donor: Mr David O’Reilly,

Co-funding Industry Partners: EirGrid, ESB, Gas Networks Ireland, SSE Renewables, RWE, Davy, EPRI, CIÉ and Atlantic Hub

The programme is tackling the challenges of energy decarbonisation to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and deliver economic, societal, and environmental impacts for Ireland and beyond.

(opens in a new window)Visit the (opens in a new window)NexSys website

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The Energy Systems Integration Partnership Programme (ESIPP) programme is now complete, and the programme led research that addressed some of the leading energy challenges required to decarbonise our energy system.

ESIPP Research Outputs:

Building on ESIPP’s success is NexSys  (Next Generation Energy Systems).NexSys is a major Strategic Partnership Programme funded by SFI and industry partners, working to advance some of the multidisciplinary research programmes of ESIPP.(opens in a new window)Visit the (opens in a new window)NexSys website

The ESIPP Story
The Energy Systems Integration Partnership Programme (ESIPP) ran from 2015 to 2022 as the flagship of the UCD Energy Institute and is now complete.

This multidisciplinary research programme addressed some of the leading energy challenges of our time and was a predecessor to NexSys.

ESIPP received €11m in funding, half from Science Foundation Ireland and half from industry. ESIPP brought together a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research team in Ireland with expertise in electricity, gas, water and data, with the relevant industry partners to focus on building human capacity and to develop a national coherent research activity in ESI.

ESIPP comprised 5 different research institutes (UCD, TCD, NUIG, ESRI and DCU), along with Industry partners and collaborators, to build the capability needed to deliver an integrated energy system in Ireland. The collaboration was underpinned by a supportive policy system with active participation by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE), the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU).

Energy Institute Lead Researchers:  Andrew Keane, Eoin Casey, Frank McDermott, Terence O’Donnell, Julie Byrne, Paula Carroll, Donal Finn, Damian Flynn, Paul Cuffe, Federico Milano, Eleni Mangina, James O’Donnell, Lisa Ryan, Conor Sweeney, Geertje Schuitema and Eoin Syron.

EMPowER Project

The UCD Energy Institute’s interdisciplinary modelling approach, informed by deep expertise in power systems, has led to the development of the Emissions and Fuel Mix, Markets and Costs, Power Flows and Networks, and End Use & Rates
of Uptake (EMPowER) modelling framework.

EMPowER offers integrated, comprehensive insights on achievability of a low-carbon future, from both an economic/policy perspective, as well from a technical and commercial point of view – a combination critical to formulating and executing sound energy and environmental policy.

Effective Climate Action entails particularly intensive technical and economic modelling. EMPowER provides electricity systems modelling services to the Climate Action Modelling Group within Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) providing a unique contribution to their overall research and analysis capacity. This forms part of the national policy modelling capacity that draws on expertise from several different institutions.

a diagram of the different modules within Empower

Figure 1.EMPowER Model Modules Schematic

The EMPowER modelling approach goes beyond legacy energy systems modelling with basic engineering parameters to examine with precision the effect of low-carbon technology outcomes on both distribution and transmission networks. In addition, EMPowER explores system costs and price impacts using market modelling that captures realistic outcomes under the Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM). It consists of three interacting modelling approaches:

  •      Agent-based micro simulations of technology uptake. These models are calibrated to Irish survey and historical data, and include the economic, social and risk-aversion (barrier) effects that influence individual consumer decisions.
  •      AC powerflow models of new load and distributed energy resource impacts on the distribution network, focusing on voltage stability constraints.
  •      Unit commitment simulation of the operation of the future power generation systems with high RES-E (using VTT/UCD Backbone),to obtain marginal costs and emissions
  •      Mutual dependencies and feedbacks between the above.

The primary outputs of EMPowER are:

  •       Technical and engineering feasibility of various electricity load and shares of renewable energy in the electricity system
  •       Role of flexibility (consumer, demand-side-management) at DSO and TSO levels
  •       Impact of policy on clean technology uptake
  •       Net emissions reductions achievable within a given policy mix
  •       Integrated assessment of policy measure alternatives

Work is divided into three strands (1) technology adoption (2) distribution system and (3) transmission system (generation). There are very close links and overlaps between each of these strands.

Horizon 2020 logo



The 4-year Horizon 2020 funded project, EU-SysFlex started in November 2017. There are 34 partners in 14 countries involved in this project, which will cost of €26.5m, including €20.3m funding from the EU, of which the UCD Energy Institute received €0.3m. The EU-SysFlex project is aimed at addressing key operational challenges associated with the transition to a low-carbon power system.  The overall objective is to develop a flexibility roadmap to support the implementation of cost-effective solutions in the pan European Electricity system.

Energy Institute Lead Researchers: Dr Damian Flynn and Dr Ciara O’Dwyer.

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Spine logo

The project will create a toolbox for modelling integrated energy systems, will cost over €3.7m with €3.6m funded by the Horizon 2020, of which the UCD Energy Institute received €0.6m. The project is made up of 5 partners in 4 different countries.  The Spine project develops and validates an end to end modular set of open source software tools for energy system modeling. Energy system modeling is the process of building computer models of energy systems in order to analyse them. Spine will develop a tool box that will enable open, practical, flexible and realistic planning of future European energy grids. The Toolbox is suitable for both detailed modelling of complex features in energy systems as well as for large-scale problems.

Energy Institute Lead Researchers: Dr Terence O’Donnell, Dr Fabiano Pallonetto and Dr Ciara Dwyer.
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ERA-Net Cofund scheme

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The objective of the EVCHIP project is to explore and validate a business model for realising the commercial value of EV charging services aggregation. In doing so, the project team aims to create a replicable, enduring modelling capacity within the participating institutions, and to produce scalable prototype software for the integration of electric transportation in the power grid. The project research goals are the assessment of a standard methodology to evaluate the impact of electric vehicles charging point at the distribution level and the validation of a real-time predictive algorithm for the bi-directional charging power management of the charging stations.A progressive modelling strategy has been selected to address the research issues identified by the current project.

Energy Institute Lead Researchers: Prof Andrew Keane, Dr Fabiano Pallonetto

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Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network

Win Grid logo

The WinGrid (Wind farm - Grid interactions: exploration and development) consortium aims to train the next generation of researchers on future power system integration issues associated with large-scale deployment of wind generation, focussing on the modelling and control aspects of wind turbine design, and the system stability issues and supervisory structures required for robust implementation. The volume of wind installations is growing rapidly, giving rise to various concerns about future power system stability. More sophisticated modelling capability is required to fully assess the growing complexity as we advance towards a 100% RES resilient power system, while new wind generation technologies are emerging which may radically impact how the future system evolves, against a background of more stringent grid code requirements and emerging system service markets. Highly-skilled researchers, capable of solving such problems, are scarce and in high demand by industry. WinGrid comprises an expert group of 10 academics from 8 beneficiary organisations including 7 leading universities and one large company DNV GL across 6 countries. It also has 8 internationally renowned industrial partners (e.g. ABB) ranging from wind turbine developer, transmission system operator, power system analysts and renewable energy consultants from 6 countries. Combined together we provide wide-ranging expertise in power electronics converters, control theory, system stability analysis, power system operation and electricity markets. The ESRs will enjoy a highly integrated, multi-disciplinary training environment, including access to specialist software and hardware-in-the-loop test environments, enriched through secondments with the network of industrial partners. WinGrid will enable critical learning across all training aspects, in order to ensure that comprehensive, robust and implementable solutions are obtained and validated to face the grid integration challenges of the future.

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CBIM: Cloud-based Building Information Modelling

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network

CBIM logo

CBIM is a European Training Network in the area of Cloud-based Building Information Modelling. CBIM brings together five leading universities, two software companies and a research institute from six countries, to provide PhD training through state-of-the-art research.

The “Cloud BIM” (CBIM) training network aims to set the foundations for generating and exploiting digital twins of existing assets. It will make a step change in addressing the practical barriers to the concept and train capable Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). Effective training of future experts in this interdisciplinary field is expected to alleviate technology transfer delays from academia to industry. The CBIM network will address these challenges by bringing together European partners with complementary world-leading expertise to form a long-term ‘best (of academia) with best (of industry)’ partnership

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PANTERA (PAN-European Technology Energy Research Approach)

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PANTERA (PAN-European Technology Energy Research Approach) is a EU H2020 project aimed at setting-up a European Forum composed of Research & Innovation stakeholders active in the fields of smart grids, storage and local energy systems, including policy makers, standardisation bodies and experts in both research and academia representing the EU-28 energy system.

The key objective of PANTERA interactive multi-functional platform is to connect the EU R&I community to enhance collaboration, wider interest and use of the project results, avoid redundancy and lost financing, strengthen the participation of all Member States in support of the fifth pillar of the Energy Union (Research, Innovation and Competitiveness) and energy transition mentioned in “A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward Looking Climate Change Policy”. All contributing entities will benefit through the enhanced connectivity and wider range of services to all beneficiaries and prospective users.

Impact includes:
• Building a true pan-European R&I community in the field of smart grids & associated flexibility measures /energy systems.
• Establishing new collaboration on a long-term perspective, which has a potential to develop into industrial collaborations.
• Building, in the long-term, solidarity and trust for a well-functioning and resilient panEuropean energy system (e.g. contributing to risk preparedness).

Energy Institute Lead Researcher: Dr Paula Carroll

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Investigator Programmes

Energy Storage and Demand-Side Flexibility within Future Electricity Markets

Energy Storage and Demand-Side Flexibility within Future Electricity Markets is a €0.8m funded SFI ( Science Foundation Ireland) Investigator Programme in collaboration with Ulster University and 8 other industry partners.

The project aims at policy guidance for decarbonisation targets and aspirations between 2020 and 2050, cost effective strategies for maintaining system security and stability, viable business cases for new/existing market participants, and ultimately signposting pathway options for a sustainable, efficient, secure electricity network that meets all end-user needs.

The project will integrate complex system models (market planning, dynamic technoeconomic plant performance, unit commitment, network loadflow, system stability) to generate an all-encompassing and robust assessment of future policy initiatives, energy storage needs, power system operating procedures and market structures. New levels of modelling sophistication are required: planning & operational timeframes must merge to create a power system which is sufficiently flexible to be operable, generation scheduling and system dynamics must impact on investment decisions, increased load electrification must influence network expansion and demand-side response opportunities.

Lead Researchersin this area are Dr Damian Flynn and Professor Neil Hewitt (Ulster University)


AMPSAS (Advanced Modelling for Power System Analysis and Simulation) is a €1.7m funded SFI Investigator Programme that will focus on the development of novel analytical and computational tools to understand, efficiently design, and optimize ever-changing modern power systems and smart grids, through model-based approaches.

AMPSAS will define new paradigms for transient, angle, frequency and voltage stability concepts and study how the changes that power systems are undergoing modify the causes that originate such phenomena and the effects they have on the system. Three aspects of power systems that have a significant impact on renewable energy supply and power system operation are considered, as follows: (i) the consideration of stochastic differential equations for modelling power systems which are subject to large stochastic perturbations (e.g., wind and solar generation); (ii) the effect of controller and modelling imperfections (e.g., delays, discontinuities, digital signals, etc.) on both local and area-wide regulators in power systems; and (iii) the stability analysis of power systems modeled through stochastic, functional and hybrid differential-algebraic equations (DAEs).


Driven by concerns of climate change, the electricity industry is in the midst of a revolution with increasing connections of variable renewable generation. Much of this is being connected as distributed generation (DG) to the medium voltage (MV) or low voltage (LV) distribution network. At the same time, electricity consumers are encouraged to become producers (prosumers) and new energy resources such as electrical storage and active demand side management, are increasingly being proposed as solutions to offset variability. This also comes at a time when the electrification of transport and heating is poised to add significant new loads to the systems. All of these changes point to a radically new technical composition for the distribution grid with a proliferation of potentially new controllable, distributed energy resources (DER). This project will investigate new approaches to the operation of the distribution network with a particular focus on exploiting the controllability of power electronics devices (e.g. DER Inverters, Smart Transformers) to aid in active management.

Energy Institute Lead Researchers: Prof Andrew Keane and Dr Terence O'Donnell

US-Ireland R&D Partnership

Intelligent Data Harvesting for Multi-Scale Building Stock Classification and Energy Performance Prediction

Under the US-Ireland R&D Partnership, researchers at University College Dublin, Ulster University and the University of Colorado aim to reduce residential building energy consumption and related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and environmental impacts across the three jurisdictions (US, Ireland, Northern Ireland). Residential buildings account for 14%-27% of GHG emissions in the three jurisdictions and cause significant negative impact on the environment. The proposed research will create novel decision support tools to inform policy makers, planners and other overburdened stakeholders about the most beneficial residential retrofitting solutions at multiple scales (local to national). The novel methodology will lie at the confluence various expertise, including green engineering of the NI team, building energy modeling and machine learning of the U.S. team, and information theory of the RoI team. These will transform diverse public datasets in three jurisdictions into actionable information. Empowered by this information, better decisions can guide modern societies towards transformative green solutions for the built environment that leverage sustainable engineering systems and enable the creation of energy-efficient, healthy and comfortable buildings for a nation's citizens. The approach is cognizant of society's need to provide ecological protection while maintaining favourable economic conditions.

Energy Institute Lead Researcher:Dr James O'Donnell

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Exploration of Air Source Heat Pumps for Ireland's Residential Heating Needs

This €71,790 SEAI project aims to review the status of the research literature on the use of air source heat pumps (ASHPs) and their operation in temperate climates like Ireland. The project is due to start in January 2019 for one year. The proposal shows a gap in the research literature on the efficient operation of ASHPs in the field. There is little publicly available empirical data to assess the operation of ASHPs in situ. We propose an initial systematic literature review to create a taxonomy of the available ASHP literature, data and models. We propose a field study of ASHPs in use in the residential sector to gather ASHP operational data, accompanied by a consumer attitudes survey. We will use the empirical data to assess any gap between the observed data and that suggested by the manufacturers' technical operating sheets and create statistical models to explain this gap. We will evaluate the consumer attitudes within a participative action research framework with a view to identifying future ASHP research needs. We will summarise the study outputs in academic papers and a final report with recommendations on installation and user operation guidelines. Lead Researchers: Dr Paula Carroll and Dr Michael Chesser  

Using blockchains to facilitate renewable power generation: forecasting, hedging and tokenisation applications

The €409K funded project will run from January 2019 to January 2023 with three PhD students. The research will engage with various ways that emerging blockchain technologies may help to facilitate the integration of renewable sources into the energy system. Three strands will be explored: the tokenisation of renewable energy for peer-to-peer trading; the use of blockchain-hosted prediction marketplaces to democratise forecasting for power systems; and using smart contracts to embed bespoke financial instruments for hedging risks encountered by wind and solar developers. Lead Researchers: Dr Paul Cuffe PhD researchers: Mahdieh Shamso, Almero de Villiers and Olakunle Alao  

ALIVE: Assessing Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Efficiency In a range of Naturally-Ventilated Buildings: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach

This project focuses on a longitudinal study that assesses the knowledge gap between energy performance and indoor environmental quality, based on the effectiveness of natural ventilation systems in maintaining a healthy environment; in Ireland there is currently a knowledge gap in this regard. This has significant implications for the marketplace and for regulators. Consumers require confidence that products and systems are fit for purpose, and this can be provided by detailed evaluation of indoor environmental quality in the context of Irish buildings. These findings will support solutions and provide information that removes barriers by improving public perception to government-supported initiatives, while helping to develop indoor environmental quality metrics for smart ventilation controls.  

Blockchain Instruments for Transacting Renewable Energy

The project is funded by the Innovation Partnership award (€116,044) and Enerman Limited ( €27,000). The research focuses on using the capabilities of modern blockchains to remove both the friction and the risks involved in selling renewable electricity. We want to implement specific financial instruments, for trading renewable electricity and for managing associated risk exposure, using modern blockchains which support smart contracts or chaincode. An appropriate smart contract should derisk financial arrangements for renewable developers, should do away with legal overheads, and may offer a more liquid pool of potential counterparties.

Lead Researcher: Dr. Paul Beagon in close co-operation with the industry co-funder Enerman Ltd.

MIGRATE (Jan 2016- Dec 2019)

As part of a transmission system operator & research institution collaboration, Energy Institute UCD is participating in the EU Horizon 2020 MIGRATE project. The €18m, 4-year project  aims at helping the pan-European transmission system to adjust progressively to the impacts resulting from the proliferation of power electronics (PE) onto HVAC (Heating , Ventilation and Air Conditioning) power system operations, with an emphasis on power system dynamic stability, the relevance of existing protection schemes and the resulting degradation of power quality due to harmonics (electrical power). With €0.5m funding from the EU, the UCD Energy Institute focus within the project is on the operation of transmission networks with no synchronous machines which may arise ‘naturally’ for individual power systems during specific intra-day periods or ‘suddenly’ following a major incident.  

Energy Institute Lead Researchers: Dr Damian Flynn, Dr Priyanko Guhathakurta & Dr Xianxian Zhao.
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Sim4Blocks (April 2016- March 2020)

Sim4Blocks is a four-year, EU-funded project that focuses on the development of innovative demand response (DR) services for residential and commercial buildings. The project aims to maximise the use of renewable energy at the block of buildings scale through demand response. UCD Energy Institute will work on the development of thermal models in supply and demand analysis and predictions and integrating these models in order to optimise the DR strategies. There are 17 partners involved in this project with UCD Energy Institute receiving c€0.4m of the €3.7m funding from the EU.

Energy Institute Lead Researchers: Dr Donal Finn, Giovanni Tardioli and Solene Goy.
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RESERVE (Oct 2016-Sept 2019)

The €5m, 3-year project RESERVE project is developing and field-testing new techniques that can enable a stable supply of purely renewable resources. With c€0.6m funding from the EU, the UCD Energy Institute focus within the project is on frequency modelling and control techniques, and voltage stability and voltage management concepts for futuristic distribution networks, based on inverters up to 100% RES in WP 3 along with field trials with ESB, the Irish Distribution Network. The objective is to test new techniques for Voltage and system Stability by Design using SERVO.

Energy Institute Lead Researchers:  Professor Andrew Keane and Professor Federico Milano.
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An Open-Source Optimal Power Flow Formulation: Integrating Pyomo & OpenDSS in Python

PI: Professor Andrew Keane and Dr. Valentin Rigoni

(opens in a new window)OPEN-DSOPF


Dome can currently solve power flow analysis, continuation power flow, time domain simulation including the quasi-static case, small signal stability analysis and optimal power flow.

PI: Professor Federico Milano

(opens in a new window)DOME


All-Ireland Collaborators

all of The groups that collaborate with the UCD energy institute

European Collaborators

European Collaborators

International Collaborators