Funding for energy research
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte T.D., and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., have announced the approval of the first two projects as part of the government-supported International Energy Research Centre.
Contracts valued at a total of €1million have been agreed between the International Energy Research Centre and four Higher Education Institutions including DIT.
The cutting-edge research projects will focus on energy efficiency and energy storage in commercial buildings, in particular:
- using wireless networks to control and manage heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and
- redesigning and developing storage heating solutions
Jointly making the announcement, Minister Rabbitte said: “Our strategy is to position Ireland as a leading edge location for developing integrated energy solutions where knowledge-intensive international and Irish companies along with leading researchers partner will develop innovative energy solutions for global markets. The projects announced today will complement existing world class energy research activities in Ireland including the internationally renowned smart grid and renewable energy integration research at the UCD Electricity Research Centre working in partnership with global companies as well as EirGrid and ESB Networks. Energy is of fundamental strategic importance to the economy and it is essential that we continue to invest in research to develop energy efficiency technologies which will underpin the Government’s energy efficiency objectives and support economic growth in the clean technology sector. These partnership projects are a case in point”
Minister Bruton said: “A key part of this Government’s plan to get out of this crisis and get jobs and growth back into the economy is to focus on sectors where as a country we have distinct advantages. The green economy clearly is one of these sectors, as not only do we have unrivalled natural resources in the area, but we have also built up a base of excellent research strength over the past decade.
“The challenge for Ireland now is to ensure that the research is properly targeted at commercialisation and turning the research ideas into businesses and jobs. That is why this centre is led by top-end global and Irish companies operating in the energy field, and will enable them to collaborate with world-leading researchers and institutions in developing cutting-edge solutions. In the coming weeks the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs will target the green economy and will build on this good news with further changes to the Irish research sector to create more good ideas and ultimately good jobs”.
Speaking about the announcement David Parekh, Vice President, Research, and Director, United Technologies Research Centre said: “It is this type of commitment to developing world class capability in energy systems research in Ireland that led to the establishment of our European Research Hub in Cork in 2010. We look forward to continuing our work with Irish research organizations, the Government, and other industry partners to advance the state of technology for integrated energy systems through the IERC.”
John Mullaney, Energy Services Manager, HSG Zander added: ‘HSG Zander’s participation as an industry partner in the IERC is viewed as a means of advancing our strategic interest in the area of wireless sensor technologies and optimising the use of energy in buildings for our Clients. The collaborative nature of the research enables us to establish a link with future technological solutions as both end users and potential IP owners. We are very excited about the capability of the IERC to enable delivery of these goals’
Julie Byrne, Executive Director of Bell Labs Ireland, commented: "Wireless sensor networking research is a strategic focus for Bell Labs Ireland. We are excited by the prospect of collaborative research with the IERC yielding innovations enabling smart energy management in buildings, through the use of such sensor networks."
Also speaking about the announcement, Michael Kelleher from Bord Gais Energy said: “Bord Gais is delighted to be taking a full and active part in the IERC. The solutions to many of our future energy requirements will be sought in the IERC and Bord Gais Energy is fully committed to shaping that future for the benefit of Irish energy users.
About the International Energy Research Centre
The International Energy Research Centre is a collaboration between industry, Departments and Agencies and leading Irish and international research groups with proven expertise in technological areas which are becoming increasingly relevant to the energy challenge. It is hosted by the Tyndall National Institute in Cork. It is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources working with a coordinated agency project team of IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
Having completed the first stage of developing the research agenda, contracts have now been signed with NUI Galway, University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology and Dublin Institute of Technology.
The energy research agenda of the IERC is industry led, and is defined through discussions with a group of global companies, collaborating together in Ireland. These companies have an interest in energy solutions and include United Technologies, Bell Labs, HSG Zander and IBM together with Irish Utility Companies Bord Gais Energy and Bord Gais Networks.
Dr Mick McKeever, DIT Kevin St, won almost €400,000 worth of research funding for his energy research programme in this first round of funding. Dr McKeever has also been awarded €80,000 under the Enterprise Ireland ‘Commercialisation Plus’ funding programme for another research project which will aim to produce a commercial prototype of the “Warmer Wedge” for commercialisation and marketing. The Warmer Wedge is a domestic hot water storage system for use in the home that Mick has already developed. It is a modular system that doubles the hot water capacity of an existing tank and allows home owners to meet all their hot water needs and future proofs against energy tariff changes. He was exhibiting his work recently at Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas Showcase 2011 so you can read more about it here...