In this call for proposals, SEAI invites Irish researchers in industry and academia to apply for funding to carry out sustainable-energy research into new market solutions and overcome barriers in the move to a secure, clean-energy future

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Ireland’s National Strategy and Roadmap for Energy Research in Ireland, published in July 2016, sets out an ambitious vision for world class, energy-related research in this country. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) plays a key role in delivering on this vision through promoting, co-ordinating and assisting research, development and demonstration of sustainable energy technologies. This is a central to SEAI’s remit, supporting solutions to overcome technical and other barriers to market deployment of sustainable energy technologies. SEAI also provides authoritative evidence-base to inform policy making.

SEAI has been operating the Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) programme since 2002 and over €25 million has been allocated for feasibility studies, related RD&D and shared-cost demonstration activities. This programme builds research capacity, aligned with Ireland’s and EU priorities, while providing a feeder for researchers to achieve success in Europe.

Building energy-related research capacity in Ireland is critical if we are to develop the skills base and knowledge to manage the transition to a low-carbon economy. Following a heavily oversubscribed programme in 2016 with high quality research proposals across a broad range of sustainable energy research and development, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment has doubled the RD&D fund to €2 million for 2017.

The strong support from Government allows issues particular to Ireland’s energy challenge to be addressed by the Irish energy research community. As a result of close collaboration between researchers and government agencies, Ireland can continue to build on its excellent energy research performance to date.

SEAI’s RD&D 2017 Call opened on 14 December, 2016. The deadline for application submissions is Monday, 6 February, 2017.

Call for proposals


In this call for proposals, SEAI is seeking to promote research best suited to Ireland’s renewable energy resources and policy priorities. Projects can be of a research, developmental or demonstration nature and the fund is open to industry, individual organisations and academia. Applications from organisations acting in collaboration, or with third level colleges and research institutes within consortia or joint ventures are also welcomed. The call is also open to the public sector and semi-state bodies, and SEAI encourages collaborative development programmes between manufacturers or service companies and research institutions or other centres of learning.

The maximum available funding depends on the category of RD&D the project falls under e.g. demonstration projects are funded up to 25% of eligible costs, while policy relevant studies can be awarded 100% funding. Funding requests between the range of €50,000 and €200,000 are generally encouraged. To maximise programme impact, applications for funding must include detailed plans to publish and disseminate results. And project outcomes must be made available in the form of a short, publishable project report to be disseminated via the SEAI website.

In 2017, SEAI is encouraging research proposals in the following areas:

  • RD&D exploring the deployment and integration of renewable electricity, including large scale wind, bioenergy and solar energy. And, micro-generation projects to meet the demand for excess electricity to be integrated into the grid;
  • Smart-grid energy and storage projects are also encouraged, specifically RD&D supporting the development and trialling of elements of the smart grid concept and energy storage, both as key enablers to transform the national electricity system to integrate renewable energy sources, facilitate demand side energy efficiency and intelligent load management, and assist the development of innovative solutions and new enterprise opportunities;
  • Building retrofit projects supporting innovative solutions for household and non-residential buildings, ensuring consideration of the building as part of wider efficiency and energy systems will be welcomed. And, the development and demonstration of products, services, tools and delivery models focussed on the retrofit of building stock that are replicable and offer potential to be delivered at a national scale and projects examining data-mining and value generation from Building Energy Rating data;
  • RD&D projects supporting energy related geospatial energy analysis datasets, resources, tools and toolkits facilitating the development of particular energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors in line with government policy are encouraged.

The 2017 RD&D Call will also encourage applications covering topics not previously targeted by SEAI’s RD&D programme. Project proposals focussing on new and emerging themes, aligning with Ireland’s and EU priorities for the energy sector will be welcomed. As a result, SEAI’s research priority areas for 2017 also include:

  • Distributed and local decarbonisation of energy supply to industry in Ireland, specifically research and innovation going beyond energy demand reduction/ and management but instead, focusing on decarbonising supply;
  • SEAI will also support research proposals for studies examining the range and viability of financial structures and models for community energy projects and potential gaps in the supports applicable for particular approaches. The emphasis will be on studies providing the evidence base for policy evolution in this important sector.Bioenergy and Renewable Heat RD&D projects supporting the development and demonstration of innovative or exemplar renewable heat solutions, will continue to be supported, specifically: bioenergy harvesting/extraction, densification, refining and conversion technologies and practices; assessments of the economic potential at a local level, consumer attitudes and the impacts of district heating networks; life cycle assessments of the sustainability of local and domestic bioenergy supply chains; and non-financial barriers to biogas and bio-methane;
  • In 2017, SEAI will support the development of trials and programmes that explore the potential for policies and measures designed with the key principles of behavioural economics and behavioural change in energy in mind, where these principles are tested to maximise programme impacts. The emphasis in 2017 on this particular topic, results from the mounting evidence that the application of behavioural economic principles applied to programmes designed to drive adoption of sustainable energy technologies and practices in the home and at work, can lead to enhanced energy savings and hence emission reductions. There is currently a lack of evidence of the impact of applying these principles on programmes targeted at Irish consumers.

Exceptional project proposals outside these research fields and technology areas that are otherwise considered to meet the objectives of the programme should also be submitted.

Funding projects


In relation to the outputs and impact from the 2016 RD&D programme, high quality and valuable outputs in areas such as community energy project models; solar energy; land-use planning and energy infrastructure; bioenergy and geospatial energy datasets have enhanced the evidence-base and will inform decision-making. Summaries of the projects funded under the 2016 programme are available on the SEAI website with final project reports submitted to date. Click here to find out more.

For example, in 2016, NVP Energy, an SME located in Navan, continued its development of an innovative wastewater treatment technology for the food and drinks sector. The technology allows for 100% of the biogas produced to be reused on-site to generate heat and/or electricity. SEAI funding was provided to validate NVP Energy’s low temperature anaerobic digestion technology at full scale to ensure the technology meets expected treatment levels, as seen in pilot studies. Also in 2016, Terrag GeoServ Ltd got support to develop a hybrid ground source and solar thermal system for the Irish market. Funding was provided to develop the system which will introduce a cost competitive alternative to the Irish ground source heat pump market, with greater long term performance and improved operating costs.

At a European level, Horizon 2020 is the EU’s largest research and innovation programme with an energy research budget of €6 billion for the period 2014 to 2020. Since it started in 2014, Irish energy researchers have secured over €27 million to fund a portfolio of energy research projects. In doing so, Irish researchers, with European partners, are addressing some of the enormous challenges facing the energy system. As the programme’s National Delegate, SEAI works closely with Enterprise Ireland, supporting many of these organisations in their Horizon 2020 bids as well as identifying opportunities for Irish researchers.

Many of the researchers supported as part of SEAI’s RD&D Programme go on to be successful in applying for European funding under Horizon 2020. NVP Energy, mentioned above, has secured €1.7 million through Horizon 2020, which is a good example of how a national programme builds capacity and capabilities and goes on to achieve success at a European level.

As an innovative, small island nation, with strong ties to our European neighbours, energy research is one of our strengths and Ireland has a dynamic and vibrant energy research community. Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment’s continued support for energy research enables job creation and the development of value-added products and services for the global market. The doubling of sustainable energy RD&D funding in 2017 clearly demonstrates a commitment from Government and SEAI will continue to support Irish businesses, scientists, engineers and innovators in energy-related research and development while ensuring value for money for that investment.

SEAI’s 2017 Research, Development & Demonstration (RD&D) Call is now open. Please click here to find out how to apply.

Author:
Joanne Sheahan, RD&D Programme Executive, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

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Ireland’s National Strategy and Roadmap for Energy Research in Ireland, published in July 2016, sets out an ambitious vision for world class, energy-related research in this country. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) plays a key role in delivering on this vision through promoting, co-ordinating and assisting research,...