€4.4m investment to develop Ireland’s biomass and bioenergy industries

10 Jul 2018877 Views

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From left: Postdoctoral researchers Dr Lara Martins Paulo and Dr Corine Nzeteu at the new MaREI SEFE Spoke laboratory in NUI Galway. Image: Aengus McMahon

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Big bet on biomass could put Ireland at forefront of renewable energy research.

Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI) has secured an additional €4.4m to develop Ireland’s biomass and bioenergy industries.

The funding has been made under the Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency (SEFE) SFI Spokes programme.

‘This partnership will bring together the top academics and industry in bioenergy and biofuels, with an overarching ambition of meeting the national objective of decarbonising energy and facilitating Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon technology’
– PROF JERRY D MURPHY

The SEFE research programme led by Prof Henry Curran (NUI Galway) and Prof Jerry D Murphy (University College Cork) leverages the scientific expertise of 10 of Ireland’s top academics in bioenergy research across four universities (NUI Galway, UCC, UL, TCD) and Teagasc.

The programme of work will also include the technical and commercial expertise of 10 national and international companies.

The four-year collaborative programme aims to identify viable routes to increase the efficient utilisation and supply of sustainable energy, and to support Ireland’s ambition to meet national and EU environmental targets.

One-stop shop for research expertise

“The benefit of the SFI research centres has been immense for research and innovation. Ireland now has a one-stop-shop system for research expertise that includes the best researchers across the island, coupled with the most relevant industrial partners,” explained Prof Jerry D Murphy, director of MaREI.

“This removes the previous competition between researchers and enhances research impact through multidisciplinary, multi-institute input into industrially relevant cutting-edge work. This partnership will bring together the top academics and industry in bioenergy and biofuels, with an overarching ambition of meeting the national objective of decarbonising energy and facilitating Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon technology.”

The technologies to be advanced by the SEFE Spoke will address some of the drawbacks associated with Ireland’s reliance on imported biofuels and intermittent renewables by improving the efficiency and reducing the carbon intensity of power generation and transport from combustion.

It will also do so by boosting the supply of renewable heat, which makes up 41pc of Ireland’s energy consumption, as well as meeting sustainable waste management challenges.

“Our research in MaREI is greatly enriched through the partnership we have with our industry partners. In addition to deepening our collaboration with Gas Networks Ireland, this project enables us to benefit from collaborating with a wide range of new partners including ABP Food Group, Arigna Fuels, Siemens and NVP Energy,” explained Prof Brian Ó Gallachóir, co-director of MaREI.

“This investment will in turn enable these industry partners to harness and benefit from the research and innovation capacity we have in MaREI.”

SFI’s support of the SEFE spokes project comes at a time when the need for new and innovative means to tackle climate change are sorely needed, said deputy director general of SFI, Dr Ciarán Seoighe.

“Partnerships like this support Ireland’s drive towards an environmentally sustainable future and places us at the forefront of renewable energy research.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com