UCD Energy Institute leads €16m project to decarbonise Irish energy sector

9 May 2022

From left: Prof Philip Nolan, SFI, Aleen van der Meer, UCD, Ali Ekhtiari, UCD, and Minister Simon Harris, TD. Image: Jason Clarke

NexSys is an all-island research and industry consortium led by UCD’s Energy Institute with headline funding from SFI that aims to decarbonise the energy sector.

A new collaborative project that brings academic and industry partners together with the aim of decarbonising Ireland’s energy sector has received €16m funding.

The NexSys (Next Generation Energy System) project is a consortium led by the Energy Institute at University College Dublin (UCD).

It plans to develop energy integration technology that aims to help the Irish energy industry move towards net-zero transition. The NexSys project will also deliver a comprehensive programme of training for researchers in collaboration with industry over the next five years.

NexSys is co-funded by nine industry partners: EirGrid, ESB, Ervia/Gas Networks Ireland, CIE, RWE, SSE, Electric Power Research Institute, Atlantic Hub and Davy.

As well as UCD, eight other academic institutions are also involved as partners. They are Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Economic Social Research Institute, Maynooth University, University College Cork, NUI Galway, Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has awarded €8m in funding to the project. This was matched by a philanthropic donation from David O’Reilly, chair of UCD’s Energy Advisory Board.

Director of NexSys and UCD Energy Institute, Prof Andrew Keane, said: “NexSys is about the future, the future of our energy system and how we get to net-zero carbon and also about developing our island’s talent to shape our future energy system.”

“We are uniquely placed with our industry partnerships to develop cutting-edge technologies alongside developing engagement and dialogue with society on the energy transition. The partnership will have potentially transformative socio-economic impacts, and will further enhance the global reputation of Irish research in the energy sector,” he added.

Prof Philip Nolan, director general of SFI, said the body was delighted to support the research partnership, adding that “successful research and innovation in this important sector will deliver a more cost-effective energy system with less impact on the environment supporting our transition to zero emissions”.

Nolan said that NexSys would also provide important future skills in the energy sector by training early and mid-career researchers in energy systems integration.

Prof Aoife Ahern, principal of engineering and architecture at UCD and senior researcher on NexSys, said the project “will play an important role in achieving a just energy transition for Ireland, in both public and private enterprises”. She added that the team would work to determine how Ireland can maintain its current quality of life while transitioning to renewable energies.

NexSys is the successor of the Energy Systems Integration Partnership Programme, which received €11m funding from SFI and industry partners. It was also led by UCD’s Energy Institute.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic