The €750,000 investment by the NTR Foundation, an independent philanthropic organisation, will help MaRei’s researchers exploit commercial opportunities for SMEs that help meet the country’s energy needs.
To date, most research has focused on renewable electricity sources but MaReihopes its work will take a wider remit by examining all sectors of the economy, according to MaRei principal investigator and professor of energy policy and modelling at UCC, Brian Ó Gallachóir.
“This strategic investment in our research is critical to extending these opportunities beyond electricity to explore the entire energy system,” said Prof Ó Gallachóir.
“Traditionally energy planning has looked at single sectors of the economy in isolation, for example, wind and electricity.
“This has limitations and is somewhat like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube by looking at one face only.
"Integrated energy systems modelling allows all dimensions of the problem to be analysed together, enabling us to unlock the opportunities associated with the complete transition to a low carbon economy across heat, transport, as well as electricity.”
The MaRei research, development and innovation facility is located in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, and has a team of 130 researchers.
The project, which will be carried out over the coming three years will explore low carbon energy options for Ireland and help identify technology opportunities for entrepreneurs for years.
“This is the largest single investment from the private sector to date in MaRei, which is an SFI [Science Foundation Ireland] research centre undertaking cutting-edge research in marine and renewable energy,” said Science Foundation Ireland director general Mark Ferguson.
“Collaborations between academia and industry help to drive discovery from the lab to marketplace… this collaborative research will address the significant challenges in renewable energy.”