9th May 2022: Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, today announced a €16 million strategic research partnership to deliver energy system integration to decarbonise the energy sector.

NexSys (Next Generation Energy System) will help Ireland prepare to meet its carbon emission reduction target. Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has awarded €8 million funding to NexSys, matched by philanthropic donation by David O’Reilly, Chair of UCD’s Energy Advisory Board and NexSys industry partners.

Launching NexSys, Minister Simon Harris said: “I am delighted to announce details of NexSys, a partnership which aims to answer some of the fundamental research questions as part of the transition to net zero. The energy system encompasses technical, financial, and societal dimensions and this is core to the integrated and interdisciplinary research of NexSys. The transition to a net zero carbon energy system is one of the major challenges facing the world and is a crucial action to mitigate climate change. This project will help us address those challenges in a sustainable, fair manner.”

Led by the UCD Energy Institute and supported by* eight other research organisations and nine industry co-funding partners, the consortium has an ambitious plan for development of energy integration technology that will pave the way towards net zero transition in the Irish energy industry. NexSys will also deliver a comprehensive programme of training for researchers in collaboration with industry over the next five years.

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. Solutions are front and centre of what we are developing. 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."

Commenting at the launch event, Prof Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support this research partnership, which brings together a multidisciplinary research team with industry to focus on energy systems integration. 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. NexSys also provides for important future skills in the sector by training early and mid-career researchers in energy systems integration.”

NexSys builds on the success of its predecessor, the Energy Systems Integration Partnership Programme (ESIPP), delivering economic and social impacts through advances in energy generation in areas including energy demand of cities, water and transport sectors, and the wind energy sector.

UCD College Principal of Engineering and Architecture and senior researcher on NexSys, Prof Aoife Ahern said: “The NexSys project, with engineers of all disciplines, will play an important role in achieving a just energy transition for Ireland, in both public and private enterprises and I am delighted that UCD Engineering, which is a world leader in engineering research related to the environment and energy, will be so deeply involved in NexSys. Engineers influence every aspect of our lives, including infrastructure, transport, communications and energy provision, and the research and work done by engineering in this project is important in determining how we can maintain our current quality of life, while transitioning to renewable energies."

*NexSys brings together nine academic institutions across the island of Ireland led by UCD, with partners Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Dublin City University (DCU), Economic Social Research Institute (ESRI), Maynooth University, University College Cork (UCC), NUI Galway, Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast.

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