NexSys and Energy Institute researchers take part in UCD-ESRI Energy Policy research conference

NexSys and Energy Institute researchers take part in UCD-ESRI Energy Policy research conference

On 16 January, energy policy researchers and collaborators gathered in Dublin’s ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) to take part in the UCD-ESRI Energy Policy Research Conference.

The event featured presentations from researchers in UCD Energy Institute and ESRI, many of whom are also based in NexSys, showcasing a range of research from across both organisations related to energy policy.

Kicking off proceedings, Prof Alan Barrett, Chief Executive Officer of ESRI, and Prof Andrew Keane, Director of the Energy Institute and NexSys, welcomed the full house of delegates and speakers in what promised to be a fantastic conference. 

In the first session, focused on renewable energy and the decarbonisation transition and chaired by Anita Vollmer of ESRI, Joe Wheatley, energy policy research expert at UCD, presented research conducted with Prof Lisa Ryan, of UCD’s Energy Institute and NexSys, around modelling the uptake of solar PV electricity in households in Ireland.

Next up, Dr Kelly de Bruin, senior research officer at ESRI and also with NexSys, presented research on modelling the impacts of the transition in the Irish economy through electrification. This was followed by a talk by Dr Ramon Varghese, postdoctoral researcher at UCD working with Dr Vikram Pakrashi of UCD and NexSys. Ramon spoke about offshore wind turbines, and his research on using subsea micropiles as a solution for offshore wind energy development. 

The next session, focusing on economic and social impacts and chaired by Lisa Ryan, started with a presentation by Dr Niall Farrell of ESRI about the equity and efficiency effects of energy subsidy cost-recovery. This was followed by Dr Nessa Winston of UCD and NexSys, who presented research on energy poverty focused on the impacts of residential and transport poverty on the educational and mental health outcomes of young people in Ireland. The research was conducted in collaboration with Dr Monika Da Silva Pedroso, postdoctoral researcher at UCD, Orla Dingley, PhD student at UCD with NexSys, and Dr Paraic Carroll, based in UCD and lead of the NexSys transport strand. 

The final presentation of the day was given by ESRI’s Dr Miguel Tovar Reanos and was about the role of financial literacy in experiencing fuel poverty. He presented findings based on a survey of 900 Irish homeowners.

NexSys researchers take part in Wind Energy Trade Show 2023

NexSys attended the Wind Energy Trade Show 2023 from October 11 and 12 at the Sport Ireland Campus in Blanchardstown, Dublin. 

NexSys funded investigator Dr Abdollah Malekjafarian (pictured above).

NexSys researchers from the offshore wind strand were at the NexSys stand of the trade show (stand A23), and NexSys funded investigator Dr Abdollah Malekjafarian (pictured above), based in UCD, presented findings from the NexSys offshore wind strand on the Research and Innovation stage on Wednesday October 11 at 3pm. 

NexSys PhD researchers Behnam Mohseni-Gharyehsafa (right in the image above) and Amirhossein Taran (left).

Dr Vikram Pakrashi, Lead of the Offshore Wind strand of NexSys and also based at UCD, said: “interdisciplinary excellence couldn’t be more timely and relevant than offshore wind for Ireland, and for the world. This is a rapidly evolving sector and fundamental to Ireland’s aspirations around clean, consistent and competitive energy supply. There is a tangible need for academic excellence to go hand in hand with industrial relevance. In the NexSys Offshore Wind strand, we tackle some of the key challenges in an Interdisciplinary manner and in close collaboration with industrial partners, leading to safer lifetime performance, improved operations & maintenance and cutting-edge innovations by assimilating fundamental physics, advanced experimentation, sensor networks, high-end computing and data analytics/AI.”

PhD researcher Mohadeseh (Mahdis) Ashkarkalaei at the NexSys stand 

NexSys industry partners RWE and ESB were exhibitors at the event. 

Speaking of the collaboration between RWE and NexSys, Peter Leffroy, Director, RWE, said: “collaboration is going to be at the heart of the energy system being able to achieve the ambitious and challenging decarbonisation targets that have been set. The NexSys programme is a superb example of what such collaboration should look like. RWE is delighted to become a partner in this programme and we are looking forward to engaging in mapping out the evolution of the energy system into the next generation.” 

Marguerite Sayers, Deputy CEO, ESB, said: “ESB is a founding member of the original partnership with UCD and industry and we are very pleased to continue that partnership through NexSys. Over that time we have gained huge insights from our involvement with UCD Energy Institute on the many challenges of moving to a decarbonised energy system. We expect the NexSys programme to provide further learnings and opportunities for engagement with all of the stakeholders involved. Decarbonising our energy system is central to ESB Net-Zero by 2040 Strategy and we recognise the value of collaboration between industry and academia in meeting this challenge.”

NexSys funded investigator Dr Abdollah Malekjafarian (left) and PhD student Behnam Mohseni-Gharyehsafa (right).

About the Trade Show 

Wind Energy Ireland said the event would “bring together Ireland’s growing domestic supply chain, the key players in the global wind energy industry and cutting edge research from Ireland and internationally for the country’s first Wind Energy Trade Show. Already a leader in onshore wind energy, Ireland has the project pipeline and the determination to become a force in offshore renewables as well. The 2023 Trade Show will showcase the exciting potential for new entrants into the Irish market and introduce to the world Irish companies that are not just competing here but are ready to compete internationally.”

“This event will be a meeting place where the world’s major players and key industry leaders will chart a vision for Ireland’s energy future alongside a rapidly growing network of local and European suppliers all looking to invest in our energy revolution.”

“The Trade Show will showcase the exciting potential for new entrants into the Irish market and introduce to the world, Irish companies that are not only ready, but willing and able to compete internationally.”

Find our more about Wind Energy Ireland and the trade show here: 

windenergyireland.com/tradeshow 

Find out more about NexSys

Next Generation Energy Systems (NexSys) is an all-island multidisciplinary research programme, involving nine different research institutions, alongside industry partners from across the energy sector. The programme’s key aims include tackling the challenges of energy decarbonisation, and developing evidence-based pathways for a just, net-zero energy system.

NexSys is financially supported by Science Foundation Ireland under the SFI Strategic Partnership Programme (Grant Number 21/SPP/3756), industry co-funding partners, and a philanthropic donation by Mr David O’Reilly. NexSys’ nine industry co-funding partners are: EirGrid, ESB Group, Davy, Atlantic Hub, CIE, RWE, EPRI, Gas Networks Ireland and SSE Airtricity. In addition, NexSys has an extensive network of collaborating partners, which will be essential in providing an evidence base for policy and delivery of services.

NexSys researchers in the news: Dublin commuters prefer walking over bicycles and e-scooters in conjunction with public transport

Commuters in County Dublin prefer walking over bikes and e-scooters as a means of getting to and from work before or after a public transport journey, according to a study co-authored by NexSys researchers recently published in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Cycling and Micromobility Research.

Micromobility – a term used to describe small, light electric vehicles such as bikes and e-scooters – is often promoted as a low-carbon alternative that can help people move away from using private cars and taxis since it can improve connectivity of existing public transport networks. However, there has been little research to date on micromobility as a travel choice in the first mile (also known as access trip) and last mile (egress trip) of a commute.

The study authors, through an online survey with 450 responses, investigated how commuters in County Dublin prefer to travel in the first- and last-mile of public transport trips. They also examined the influence of characteristics such as gender and age on people’s choice of micromobility, including shared bicycles and e-scooters, compared to walking. 

In the survey, residents of County Dublin were asked about the mode of transport they would choose in hypothetical commute scenarios, including in the first mile of a commute with private bicycles and e-scooters, and in the last mile with shared bicycles and e-scooters. 

Using statistical models to analyse the responses, the researchers found that walking was the preferred option for commuting for most respondents, even when other options were available and provided significant reductions in travel time.

“This was one of the more surprising outcomes of the survey,” said lead author Giulia Oeschger, PhD candidate at UCD’s School of Civil Engineering. “I was expecting a lot of people to be more concerned with travel time, since cycling and e-scooter-use drastically reduced travel time in the experiment, but despite this a lot of people still deliberately chose the walking option which is always the longest. The population of Dublin seems to really love walking and our survey shows they do it for enjoyment or for exercise. This seems to be a characteristic of the city of Dublin,” she said. However, how the available infrastructure and the perceived safety of cycling and e-scooter use on the streets of Dublin influence the results has not been looked at in this particular study, and is something that the authors feel should be investigated further.

Giulia Oeschger headshot Paraic Carroll 

Left: Lead author Giulia Oeschger; Right: Dr Páraic Carroll, Assistant Professor in UCD’s School of Civil Engineering and lead of the transport strand at NexSys at UCD

The authors also found important differences in transport preference in relation to gender and age. Young (less than 35 years old) and male respondents are significantly more likely to choose e-scooters and bicycles, while older and female respondents are significantly more likely to choose walking, even if other options were significantly faster. This is consistent with previous studies which also found that e-scooter users are predominantly young and male, the authors note in the paper. 

Dr Páraic Carroll, Assistant Professor in Transport Engineering at UCD’s School of Civil Engineering and one of the authors of the study, states that “while the results of this study highlight that walking was the preferred choice for first and last mile segments of a journey, it also accounts for the existing limited ability to combine active modes or micromobility trips with public transport in Dublin and across the country due to, in some cases, modes not being well integrated with one another and the limitations in bringing private bikes or scooters onto public transport vehicles. However, the walkability of our access trips to and from public transport stops/stations is a key component influencing the attractiveness of public transport services.” 

Availability of secure parking was an important consideration when it comes to choosing transport modes, the authors found. 

The researchers argue that these results confirm that younger generations have a growing interest in micromobility, but regulations and adequate infrastructure are needed to promote equitable access to these modes of transport, with a particular focus on attracting users away from more carbon-intensive transport such as private cars and ride-hailing trips.

The paper co-authors are:

– Giulia Oeschger, PhD candidate at UCD’s School of Civil Engineering;

– Dr Páraic Carroll, Assistant Professor in UCD’s School of Civil Engineering and lead of the transport strand at NexSys at UCD;

– Professor Brian Caulfield, Professor in Transportation in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and funded investigator with NexSys. Giulia Oeschger and Dr Páraic Carroll are also part of the UCD Transport Research Hub (TREAH), which Dr Carroll leads. 

 

This research is funded by University College Dublin, School of Civil Engineering, under the MicroActive Dublin research project. 

 

About NexSys and its transport strand

Next Generation Energy Systems (NexSys) is an all-island, multidisciplinary energy research programme. NexSys is hosted by the UCD Energy Institute in partnership with eight other leading research institutions. 46 leading academics work in partnership with industry to tackle the challenges of energy decarbonisation, developing evidence-based pathways for a net zero energy system. 

The NexSys transport research strand is investigating the critical infrastructure, behavioural and policy challenges of transitioning to decarbonised multi-modal transport and renewable energy use in a fair way, and identifying tangible evidence-based solutions via engagement and collaboration of key stakeholders tasked with implementing them.

News coverage:

The Independent: Walking wins out over scooters and bikes for ‘last mile’ of city commutes

UCD News: Public transport commuters prefer pounding the pavement over bicycles and e-scooters – University College Dublin (ucd.ie)

 

Researcher spotlight: Maryam Pourmahdi

NexSys PhD researcher Maryam Pourmahdi, based in UCD’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, was recently awarded the Best Paper Award at the Universities Power Engineering Conference (UPEC) in TU Dublin. 

We catch up with Maryam below.

Maryam Pourmahdi headshot

What is your NexSys research about and what are you working on at the moment?

My research focuses on creating better and more efficient devices called “rectifiers” that convert alternating current (AC) from the grid to direct current (DC) for use in various applications like electric vehicle charging, power supplies, and hydrogen production. I’m currently working on a design that not only improves energy efficiency but also reduces electromagnetic interference noise, making it safer and more grid friendly. The title of my NexSys project is ‘Advanced Active rectifiers for grid connected applications.’

How did you become interested in this research field?

I was initially intrigued by the challenges of modern power systems and the importance of energy efficiency. With the growing demand for DC power in various applications, the role of rectifiers becomes critical. This led me to explore how these devices could be designed to be more efficient, reliable, and compatible with the power grid.

What is one interesting fact about your research area people may not know about?

My research offers ‘grid-friendly’ rectifiers that not only reduce electrical noise but also maintain stable interactions with the electrical grid. This is critical for preventing disruptions and failures. Additionally, my work has applications in electrolysers for green hydrogen production, making them more efficient and compact.

What is the wider relevance of your research to the energy transition?

The efficiency and reliability of rectifiers are paramount, especially when applied to electrolysers—devices pivotal to the production of green hydrogen, an emerging clean energy source. As the world shifts towards cleaner energy solutions, my research on advanced rectifiers can significantly enhance the efficiency of hydrogen production systems. This translates to reduced energy waste, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and more affordable green hydrogen, potentially accelerating policy shifts towards this sustainable energy option.

You recently won a Best Paper Award at the Universities Power Engineering Conference in TU Dublin. Congratulations! What was the paper about? 

The paper title was “Dual-Cuk High Step-up Bridgeless PFC Converters with Continuous Input and Output Currents”. This paper proposes two novel types of dual-Cuk bridgeless rectifiers for voltage conversion in power systems. These grid-friendly rectifiers overcome the limitations of conventional boost rectifiers and offer several significant advantages including high reliability, low voltage stress across the semiconductors, continuous input and output current, and high step-up voltage operation capability.

What is something people may find surprising about you?

Outside the lab, I have a passion for painting and portraiture, where I find a different kind of creative expression compared to my scientific work. I also enjoy playing the guitar, which serves as a melodic break from the analytical world. Additionally, I love feeding birds; it’s a simple act that brings me immense joy and a sense of connection to nature.

NexSys researchers take part in EirGrid research forum

NexSys researchers were delighted to take part in the EirGrid Research Forum which took place on 29 August in Dublin. 

EirGrid is one of NexSys’ industry co-funding partners, which include Ireland’s leading energy providers. 

Three NexSys researchers shared their current research and findings on topics ranging from inverters and the grid, gender and the energy transition, and the role of data centres in future energy systems.

Associate Professor Paula Carroll (pictured below), a NexSys funded investigator who is based in UCD’s School of Business, gave a presentation entitled Gender Mainstreaming in the European Union Energy Transition. She discussed the results of her recent literature review on the Energy/Gender nexus. 

Paula Carroll presenting a talk at EirGrid Research Forum

Associate Professor Terence O’Donnell (pictured below), NexSys Co-Lead of the Energy Systems Strand and based in UCD’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, gave a talk entitled Harmonic resonances associated with grid connected inverters. As part of his presentation, he covered results of recent published research co-authored with Dr Ramy Ali.  

 

Terence O'Donnell presenting at EirGrid Research Forum

 

 

Alireza Etemad (pictured below), NexSys PhD student based in UCD’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, presented his research on The Role of Data Centres as Prosumers in Future Energy Systems. Alireza, who is working with Associate Professor James O’Donnell as part of his PhD, is also a Senior Energy Policy Researcher at SEAI’s Decarbonised Heat Group.

Alireza Etemad presenting at the EirGrid Research Forum

 About NexSys

Next Generation Energy Systems (NexSys) is an all-island multidisciplinary research programme, involving nine different research institutions, alongside industry partners from across the energy sector. The programme’s key aims include tackling the challenges of energy decarbonisation, and developing evidence-based pathways for a just, net-zero energy system.

NexSys is financially supported by Science Foundation Ireland under the SFI Strategic Partnership Programme (Grant Number 21/SPP/3756), industry co-funding partners, and a philanthropic donation by Mr David O’Reilly. NexSys’ nine industry co-funding partners are: EirGrid, ESB Group, Davy, Atlantic Hub, CIE, RWE, EPRI, Gas Networks Ireland and SSE Airtricity. In addition, NexSys has an extensive network of collaborating partners, which will be essential in providing an evidence base for policy and delivery of services.

Blog post: A week at the EURO PhD Summer School

By Clíodhna Ní Shé

Clíodhna Ní Shé is a PhD student in the Transport strand of NexSys, based in the School of Business at University College Dublin. Clíodhna’s research focuses on optimisation algorithms, with a focus on electric vehicle routing problems and last mile logistics. A vehicle routing problem is a combinatorial optimisation problem which aims to find the optimal set of routes for a fleet of vehicles to traverse in order to deliver to a given set of customers. Last mile logistics concerns the last stretch of the supply chain, from the last distribution centre to the recipient’s preferred destination point.

In her spare time Clíodhna plays Gaelic Football for Carlow. From 25 to 29 June, she attended the EURO PhD summer school on sustainable supply chains in Hagen, Germany, and writes about her experience below.

Clíodhna Ní Shé

Sunday

I set out from Dublin to Dusseldorf airport, where I would have to navigate two connecting trains and a bus to get me to my accommodation in Hagen, a city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. I was due to arrive at my accommodation around 12 noon, but due to numerous delays and miscommunications in Deutsche Bahn, I only checked in at 5 o’clock.  Hungry from the arduous trip, I was overjoyed to be greeted by a generous buffet of Lebanese food as I entered the Sunday evening get together. Following mildly awkward introductions, we enjoyed the delicious food in the heat, along with bottles of beer, cola and ‘radler’, a traditional German drink.

Monday

Bright and early in the morning, summer school delegates walked from the accommodation to the FernUniversitat, Germany’s only state distance learning university. With over 73,500 students, it is also the largest university in Germany. Throughout the busy week we were treated to lectures and tutorials on designing sustainable supply chains, benchmarking supply chains, and the circular economy. Monday’s lecture and tutorial concentrated on assessing sustainability in supply chains. First, I learned about the relevance and challenges of life cycle sustainability assessments. Following this, I learned about the steps of a life cycle assessment (LCA) and how to interpret the results. I was then introduced to social LCA and how to assess the environmental and social impacts, an interesting aspect of LCA that I hadn’t encountered before. In the afternoons, we were split into groups to work on various case studies. The case studies were introduced to us by representatives from industry partners Volkswagen and Holocene.

Tuesday-Wednesday

As the week went on, lecture focused on the planning of sustainable supply chains and the problems that arise when doing this planning. As part of learning about benchmarking sustainable supply chains, we were also introduced to data envelopment analysis.

A highlight of the trip was the field trip on Tuesday evening that we took to the Koepchenwerk pumped storage power plant, which has been shut down since 1994. We were treated to a very informative tour of the scenic plant. We then walked to an Italian restaurant where we had a lovely meal together.

Thursday

Thursday’s lecture on the circular economy was particularly interesting as we discussed many possible circular supply chains and the possible advantages and disadvantages of them, as well as their realistic viability.

On this final day of the summer school, we presented our case study presentations to our peers and to the relevant stakeholders.

Returning home

There is no doubt that throughout the week we gained valuable knowledge from experts that guided us through cutting edge quantitative research in this vital field. However, the most valuable information was gained from my peers with whom I collaborated and had the opportunity to share stories and connect with.

Summer School Participants
Summer School Participants

Pictured above: Summer school participants