UCD Energy Institute recognised for its “exceptional performance” on decarbonising energy systems

Posted 1 September, 2022

The UCD Energy Institute has been recognised for its work on decarbonising energy systems, receiving 'performance' funding under a €5m Government scheme to reward projects that have made significant contributions towards achieving Ireland's national strategic objectives.

For developing research talent and in supporting policy for the decarbonisation of energy in Ireland and internationally through the Energy Systems Integration Partnership Programme (ESIPP), the UCD Energy Institute is one of six higher education institutions awarded €833,333 in new funding.

The ESIPP has developed into NexSys (“Next Generation Energy Systems”), continuing its critical research and talent development for the energy transition.

“It is vital that we recognise outstanding performance in higher education, and I would like to congratulate the successful institutions on their exceptional case study submissions,” said Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD.

“Together, these institutions are making a significant and lasting impact in Irish society, tackling key national issues such as domestic and gender-based abuse, the development of our natural energy resources, and opening new pathways into higher education for professional learners and under-represented groups.”

The other institutions awarded 'performance' funding include Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, National University of Ireland, Galway, South-East Technological University, and University of Limerick.

The awards were based on an evaluation of 18 Impact Case Studies submitted by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in April 2022. The submissions were assessed by an independent panel of expert advisors.

“The UCD Energy Institute has been proud to make a positive impact towards our societal goal of a net zero carbon future,” said Professor Andrew Keane, Director of NexSys and the UCD Energy Institute.

“Hosting large, multidisciplinary programmes such as ESIPP and now NexSys show the potential for advances in the energy transition when academics and industry work in partnership.”

In its submission, the UCD Energy Institute highlighted how it had successfully developed a strong talent pipeline of doctoral, postdoctoral and early career faculty in the internationally competitive and growing area of sustainable energy systems through its ESIPP programme.

Between 2016 and 2021, some 69 Masters graduates, 32 PhD graduates and 35 Postdoctoral fellows were trained to address the challenges of decarbonisation - with many bringing their skills to industry and the public sector to contribute to the pace and scale of the energy transition with a cutting edge evidence base.

In shaping policy, the UCD Energy Institute showed how its research output had been used by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in determining priority housing retrofit locations, and by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications in aiding with climate policy decisions, particularly for the Climate Action Plan.

ESIPP team members were also the national representatives for Ireland on multiple International Energy Agency Task Forces, and participated in the European Energy Research Alliance Joint Programmes in Energy Systems Integration (EERA JP ESI) and Smart Grids (EERA JP SG) - designed to develop the technical and economic framework needed to build a sustainable European energy system.

New technologies were also showcased in its submission, through spin-out companies including NovoGrid, OxyMem, and VorTech Water Solutions.

Engagement with policy makers, industry, the public and affected communities is seen as key to this research, and the programme team met with policy makers and other stakeholders through the Insight Series and policy-seminar series, and with the public through media engagements featuring leading ESIPP academics such as Professor Andrew Keane and Professor Lisa Ryan on broad energy issues of national concern.

Researchers also engaged with communities through their research and local media when, and through research programmes assessing the impact of decarbonisation on those communities.

“I am delighted to see the success of these initiatives and the continuing commitment of our institutions to widening the reach and accessibility of higher education,” said Dr Alan Wall, CEO of the HEA.

“I particularly commend the range of partnerships and networks forged across social and economic life, connecting the work and influence of higher education institutions with wider society. In recognising and supporting the public impact of institutions today, we are also gathering the learnings and experience that will inform the engaged initiatives of tomorrow.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations