DEEDS Policy Briefs

The DEEDS-project creates a network of leading scientists and a knowledge base of relevant research projects related to European decarbonisation pathways. The project organizes a dialogue for co-creation of knowledge and policies with representatives from science, policy, industry and civil society.

MaREI Research Fellow Dr Paul Deane is involved in this project bringing his expertise in:

(1) Integrated EU climate and energy policy expertise

(2) Economy wide low carbon roadmap developments

(3) Energy system and land use interactions in low carbon futures.

You can find the policy briefs below:

Government formation: Can a 7% annual reduction in emissions be achieved

Government formation talks are centred around an increase in climate ambition to a 7% reduction per year.

MaREI Research Fellow Paul Deane reflects on the proposal, gives numbers and suggests what is needed to have an increased chance of success.

Success in climate policy is measured in delivered reductions rather than rhetoric.

Ireland has scored high in the latter and the worst in Europe in the former

In 2008 Ireland committed to the most ambitious climate targets in Europe and by 2020 missed that target by the largest amount of any member state.

Ireland is again looking to an increased level of ambition for 2030 with government formation discussions centred around a 7% reduction in greenhouse gases per year to 2030.

The task is without parallel.

Ireland has only ever delivered significant emissions reduction during the recession or by closing industrial plant.

The current Government Climate Action Plan (CAP) aims to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by 3% per year from 2020 delivering 90 million tonnes in cumulative emissions reduction to 2030 and moves Ireland’s annual greenhouse gas emissions from 61 million tonnes to 45 million tonnes for the year 2030

The proposed target of 7% will require a doubling of this ambition delivering in 5 years what the CAP said it would deliver in 10 years and requires an additional 100 million tonnes in cumulative emissions reduction.

The narratives on climate action are compelling; most people want action, however, the numbers are stark and convincing the public to act is something that must be achieved.

The proposed ambition of a 7% reduction per annum will require at least a doubling of the committed 30 billion euro investment in climate action in the period to 2030.

This is approximately an additional investment of 600€ per annum per Irish citizen

If the task is to be successful, political representatives must learn from the lessons of the past and plan for the future where difficult decisions and trade-offs must be made.

In the period to 2020, a lack of policy focus on transport, heat and agriculture which account for 80% of Ireland’s national emissions and 100% of our European emissions obligations was key to missing our targets

The leadership shown in the successful policy area of renewable electricity must now be replicated across all sectors and this will require a new approach with a particular focus on demand-side emissions.

Demand-side emissions reduction are more challenging and expensive than supply-side measures because the number of actors is greater, the emissions reductions are incremental and take longer to achieve.

Within Ireland’s ETS sector, 130 installations account for one-quarter of total emissions while the remaining 75% of emissions are produced by a heterogeneous mix, comprising of over 1 million households, thousands of small businesses and over 130,000 farms.

From a policy perspective, fragmented political support, piecemeal programmes and myopic policies must be avoided as they amplify uncertainty, increase costs and decrease the probability of success.

Research shows that a significant impact on achieving targets is the cost of finance rather than technologies choices. This must be reduced as much as possible.

Investment in emissions reduction, be they supply or demand side, are capital intensive with high upfront costs.

This requires long term policy support that must go well beyond the political cycle.

Within each individual sector, a number of options can be considered to deliver emissions reduction over and above what is already planned for in the CAP. [Emissions reductions are point estimates for one year]

No alt text provided for this image


Increasing renewable electricity ambition beyond the planned 70% for 2030 has open physical and logistical challenges however an estimate 1 million tonnes of projected emissions could be avoided if all Data Centres were mandated for 24*7 renewable energy supply rather than synthetic offsetting.

Beyond this, carbon capture and geological storage of emissions may be required for the power sectors and this should be investigated.


Delivering extra emissions reduction over and above the CAP will require supply-side measures such as increasing the biofuel obligation (to E10 and B12) to be fast-tracked.

The introduction of “drop-in” biofuels such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) as done at scale in Sweden should be considered.

Blending one litre of HVO with every 9 litres of diesel could reduce emissions by 0.8 million tonnes

Encouraging remote working is important but impacts are often overstated; doubling the number of people working from home could deliver an additional 0.3 million tonnes of reduction.


The CAP targets 500,000 homes to be retrofitted by 2030. This is approximately 200 home completions each day.

Increasing this to the suggested level of 350 per day would deliver an additional 0.2 million tonnes per year in reductions.

This will require an extensive skills and training program coupled with strict and frequent auditing for compliance of retrofitting standards and quality. It is also unclear how it will be financed.


Giving rural families better options and a certain future is an important element to more financially and environmentally sustainable farming.

Forestry planting ambitions within the CAP will likely struggle as it underestimates the cultural attachment to land in Ireland

Bioenergy production of renewable gas could displace emissions in both industry, buildings, transport, manure management and chemical fertilizer use and deliver approximately 0.7 million tonnes of savings in 2030.

This will require strong, long term financial support as well as the swift introduction of strict compliance, certification and monitoring procedures to ensure sustainability.

Managing Expectation:

Ireland is unlikely to achieve a 7% reduction in annual emissions however success should be measured in cumulative emissions reduction from 2020 rather than annual intervals which are swayed by weather and interrupted by social events as we are seeing with the current crisis.

To increase chances of success strict monitoring of progress will be required. Increased ambition is not enough – actual emissions reductions are required.

This challenge is made difficult because national accounts on emissions take 2 years to produce.

Monthly or 6 month timelines and milestones for sectoral targets in terms of houses renovated, km of cycle lane built etc. should be used a proxy for emissions

Above all, expectations may have to be managed and plans may have to be flexible

The history of energy transitions often shows us that what was once thought impossible can be achieved, but it usually takes much longer than expected

Event Report | International Ocean Colour Science Meeting

This year, the Third International Ocean Colour Science (IOCS2017) Meeting took place 15-18th May in sunny and warm Lisbon, Portugal. Read the event report here.

From Science to Showbusiness

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but changed from one form to another. It’s the same with knowledge. The story of renewable gas in Ireland, currently residing in academic journal articles and reports, was brought to life by ERI researchers and friends on a sunny Saturday morning in August. PhD candidate Aoife Long, of the Biofuels and Bioenergy Research Group, produced, directed and starred in a video to Dance her PhD.


The video is an entry for the International Science Magazine Dance your PhD competition. This competition encourages researchers to explain their research through dance, with the aim to delight and inform the public. The winner will be decided by a judging panel who will consider scientific merit, artistic merit, and the creative combination of both.


The Biofuels and Bioenergy Research Group, led by Professor Jerry Murphy, has pioneered the research on the potential sources of renewable gas in Ireland. The group is now looking at how this potential can be realised, along with future technologies such as Power to Gas.

What Happens if the Wind Doesn’t Blow: A Short Story on Gas and Electricity Interactions in Europe


By Paul Deane


After the sweltering heat in Europe this summer, the cold snap of January 2017 seems a long time ago. However a 2 week period in January serves as an important reminder of why it is important to consider multiple elements of the energy system when planning for the future. Here I look at the interactions between the electricity and gas systems and what happens if things don’t quite go to plan….

It was a cold one. Atmospheric conditions in Europe in early January were dominated by blocking conditions bringing warm air towards north-western Europe and cold air into southern Europe. This contributed to low wind and solar generation in most of mainland Europe. Wind power generation was down by 15-20% across central Europe compared to the previous year and solar generation was insignificant. Europe was still recovering from a dry end to 2016 which continued into the first quarter of 2017. This pushed hydro reserve levels to several year lows and coupled with freezing conditions limited hydro’s generation potential. The European power system was coming under pressure…however this was only the start of the challenge.

France was struggling with ongoing safety tests at nuclear facilities while limited nuclear capacity was also an issue in Germany. The 2GW IFA electricity interconnector between France and the UK was damaged during the winter Storm Angus and was now working only at limited capacity. For large parts of Eastern Europe the second week in January was the most extreme of the winter. Russia experienced the coldest Orthodox Christmas in 120 years, and temperatures dropped to almost -30°C in Romania. People needed heat, significantly increasing the demand for electricity and gas.

Low availability of nuclear and low availability of renewables meant that conventional gas and coal fired generation filled the gap. Natural gas consumption in power generation in the EU reached the highest level in the last seven years in January 2017 (65TWh of electricity from gas). Coupled with increased gas demand for residential heating, gas storage facilities in central Europe saw big withdrawals of gas even as pipeline imports from Russia and Algeria increased. Equally coal imports from Russia and Columbia were up on previous years to meet extra demand from power generation.

Thankfully, the cold snap resided towards the end of the month and the power system got through the crisis. Major electricity supply disruptions did not occur during the cold spell although several countries imposed export bans. Bulgaria imposed a 27 day long electricity export ban. Retail electricity prices for household customers in central Europe went up by 1.8%. Some regions like Ireland, UK and Nordic Europe were relatively spared from the cold weather and wholesale prices remained at moderate levels in January. In short, it was a close call.

Our Research in UCC is looking at these issues. We are trying to understand these challenges across Europe as we transition to power systems with more weather dependant generation and fossil fuel imports from abroad. We use the PLEXOS Integrated Energy Model to understand how future gas and electricity interactions in Europe might impact market prices, security of supply and emissions. Our Existing analysis shows how supply interruptions of gas, gas storage and LNG availability can impact electricity prices. Our EU integrated gas and electricity models are freely available from Energy Exemplar who also provide PLEXOS for academic and commercial users. In the future we hope to add water interactions to these models.

If you’re interested in this area of research or would like collaborate or use our models, please feel free to get in touch.

Thanks to Conor Hickey for edits

MaREI Symposium 2018

MaRINET2 1st Access Call Opening 10th April

The EU MaRINET2 initiative first access call is opening on the 10th April, the website will also become live on that date. MaRINET2 is a network of 39 partners, involving research centres and organisations cooperating to progress offshore renewable energy technologies such as wave, tidal and offshore-wind.  It achieves this through marine energy development companies, entrepreneurs, start-ups and researchers with fully-funded access to marine energy experts and advanced test facilities.


Save Interviews John Ringwood recently interviewed MaREI Principle Investigator Professor John Ringwood. Read about what he has to say in this article.

Jelly Fish - Damien Haberlin

Jellyfish – Indicators of change?

For many years jellyfish were a forgotten component of marine ecosystems, described in a rather derisory way as a “trophic dead end” and therefore not really worthy of consideration. This was quite the fall from grace, considering jellyfish had at one time, occupied the minds of some of history’s most influential naturalists. Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley and Ernst Haeckel to name just a few were fascinated by these delicate creatures that might help them explain the mysteries of evolution and the radiation of different body forms.



Top left, Leuckartiara octona; top right, the crystal jelly Aequorea forskalea; bottom right, the compass jelly Chrysaora hysoscella; bottom left, the barrel jelly Rhizostoma octopus.



In the last 30 years or so, there has been a renaissance of sorts in jellyfish ecology and we now know that they contribute significantly to marine ecosystems. Jellyfish can be voracious predators, consuming a variety of zooplankton including crustaceans, fish eggs and larvae and indeed other jellyfish. In this way, they compete directly with many fish species which rely on the same prey species as jellyfish. When conditions are favourable some species can bloom to enormous densities and come to dominate an ecosystem, significantly reducing the food available for other species. What exactly constitutes favourable conditions is not fully understood and undoubtedly varies from species to species, but jellyfish are well placed to thrive when ecosystems are pushed beyond tipping points. This is perfectly illustrated by events in the Black Sea during the 80s and 90s.


Jellyfish 2

Ctenphore species Beroe sp. taken by a diver off the Cork coast.


In the early 80s the Black Sea was a heavily populated and overfished body of water. It received catchment waters from a region of unregulated industry and intense agriculture within the former USSR territories, leading to eutrophication. All the bordering countries had competed over the highly prised sardine fishery with little attempt at cross border management of the resource, leading to vast reductions in fish numbers. At some point the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi was accidentally introduced into the Black Sea and was able to thrive; feeding on crustaceans, fish eggs and larvae, the Mnemiopsis population exploded with catastrophic impacts on the fish and zooplankton abundance. Without a natural predator, Mnemiopsis dominated the region and spread into connected water bodies. Ironically, the introduction of another ctenophore Beroe ovata, which preys on other ctenophores, began to control Mnemiopsis abundance to some degree, allowing the ecosystem to partially return to the earlier regime.


The events in the Black Sea are complex and teasing them apart in hindsight is difficult, however, they highlight the ability of jellyfish to respond quickly to changes in an ecosystem. They also demonstrate that although the ecosystem changed rapidly, its resilience was probably eroded over a period of decades before being tipped over into a vastly different jellyfish dominated ecosystem.


The events in the Black Sea represent something of a worst case scenario and there is little evidence that it has been replicated elsewhere, least of all in the Celtic Sea. However, it does demonstrate that large scale ecosystems can be forced to change, whether that forcing comes from anthropogenic or natural sources. We can use our improving knowledge of jellyfish ecology to look at long-term datasets of jellyfish abundance in the Celtic Sea and try to spot changes in the ecosystem. Some species common in the Celtic Sea have multiple generations in a season and therefore they respond quickly to environmental changes, making them something of a sentinel species. In addition, we will use recent research cruises in the Celtic Sea to investigate the summer jellyfish abundance in the region. While this sampling only gives us a single snapshot in time, that snapshot extends over a large and complex water body with distinct water masses. Analysing the zooplankton community and abundance within these changing water masses can reveal important insights into changing zooplankton ecology.


Surface temperature during July 2015, with total jellyfish per cubic metre sampled at each station, showing the heterogeneous distribution of jelly fish across the area sampled.


Damien Haberlin is a PhD Researcher with the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI) based in University College Cork.

Meet our female Engineers

Discovering the Future of Earth Observation at IEOS 2017

MaREI researchers of the Earth Observation group attended this years Irish Earth Observation Symposium (IEOS) 2017: “Discover the Future of Earth Observation”, November 2nd and 3rd, Maynooth University, Ireland

The theme of this year’s IEOS meeting was strengthening the linkages between researchers, technologists, service-providers and end-users to enable more effective exploitation of Copernicus Earth Observation (EO) data & information services across Ireland. The event consisted of presentations from leading Ireland-based EO experts and promoted awareness of the many uses of Copernicus data and information.

Several UCC/MaREI EO researchers attended the event to network with colleagues and gain insight to the latest developments in EO research as well as to present recent developments in EO projects and PhD research currently being undertaken in MaREI. The presentations covered a variety of environmental research issues at regional, European and global scales.

Mr Rory Scarrott (UCC MaREI, PhD student) presented progress in developing hyper-temporal EO data analysis methods in North Atlantic and recommendations for their deployment to harness ocean data opportunities. Rory’s research is being supported by the H2020 Co-ReSyF project (

Dr Walther Cámaro García (UCC MaREI, Postdoctoral Researcher) presented outputs of the validation of the ESA CCI Soil Moisture v03.2 product using fine spatial resolution satellite data (Sentinel-1 and ENVISAT ASAR) and in-situ measurements in various European sites. Walther’s research is funded by the ESA CCI Soil Moisture project (

Miss Tiny Remmers (UCC, MSc graduate) presented a poster on her MSc thesis research showcasing the potential of ASCAT 12.5 km wind product for offshore wind farm site selection in Ireland. Tiny recently completed the MSc Applied Coastal and Marine Management in UCC (

The 2-day event increased awareness of Copernicus data availability and usage across a number of thematic research and development areas. Both days also offered attendees a great opportunity to network with EO experts and students involved in a wide range of cutting-edge EO and geospatial research.

The MaREI EO and GIS Applications Group would like to thank Conor Cahalane (NUIM) and the IEOS committee for organising this inspiring and successful event.

Achievements of the Celtic Seas Partnership


By Sarah Twomey


The Celtic Seas Partnership was an international project funded by LIFE+, the EU’s funding instrument for the environment. It brought together, governments, sea-users and scientists to find new ways of managing the marine environment to secure a sustainable future for our valuable marine economy and to protect our precious seas.

Over the past four years, the WWF-led Celtic Seas Partnership has been bridging the links between marine stakeholders and policy, building key relationships and developing a toolbox of resources to support the management of the Celtic Seas. University College Cork’s MaREI Centre coordinated the stakeholder engagement activities in Ireland through a series of two national and three international workshops from 2013- 2016. The final event took place in Croke Park, Dublin in October 2016, attracting over 100 delegates representing a wide range of sectors across the Celtic Seas.

Key achievements include:

  • influencing the Governments’ Programmes of Measures for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in Ireland, the UK and France
  • scenarios developed with stakeholders for the Future Trends study are being used by the Marine Management Organisation as the basis for their own future
  • scenario work for Marine Spatial Planning around England
  • evaluation of the project identified that what people valued most about the project was the unique opportunity to meet and work with others from different sectors and different countries. The project also helped to improve people’s understanding of marine policy and to empower them to get involved in shaping policy. This has created a better environment for implementing the policy which should in turn bring environmental improvements

Through the active involvement of stakeholders representing government, industry and civil society from Ireland, the UK and France, the project recently launched a host of resources to support the implementation of integrated approaches to our seas. Examples of these outputs range from guidance documents such as Guidelines for Planning Authorities and Engaging stakeholders in regional marine policy, an interactive website exploring Future Trends, a Celtic Seas Information Portal and a series of videos showcasing a range of locations across the Celtic Sea, as well as Irish stakeholders including Cork-based Richard
Cronin (Dept. of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government) and Dublin-based Catherine Barrett (BIM).

Celtic Sea Partnership:


This article appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of Inshore Ireland

April MaREI Newsletter Now Available



Catch up with the latest news, blogs, industry features and event reports from MaREI. Some highlights of the April Newsletter include:

  • MaREI to coordinate MARINERG-i project
  • MARINET2 Open for Applications
  • Wavepower establish an office in The Entrepreneur Ship
  • MaREI Green Gas Position Paper Launched
  • And lots more…!

Click here for the full newsletter.

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to keep in touch!

Sophie Power Climate KIC Summer School Blog

MaREI Researcher Sophie Power is attending Climate KIC’s Summer School 2017. Here is her latest blog on her experiences and what she is learning.

Shona Paterson talks to the Evening Echo

Maintaining a Healthy Harbour – Schools initiative

Port of Cork and MaREI Team Up to Deliver A Primary Schools Initiative For A Healthy Harbour

How do we Engage Communities in Climate Action?

The outputs of this ‘How do we Engage Communities in Climate Action? – Practical Learnings from the Coal Face’ workshop have been co-developed by the climate action practitioner community and MaREI researchers. The proceedings draw from the knowledge and experiences of these practitioners, and they offer a set of recommendations and insights into leveraging different community engagement approaches and methodologies in the area of climate action.

The workshop was funded by the National Dialogue on Climate Action (NDCA). This report is complementary to the report of a later workshop, involving academics and researchers, entitled Innovative Methods of Community Engagement: Toward a Low Carbon, Climate Resilient Future which was developed by the Imagining2050 team in UCC and the Secretariat to the NDCA.

You can download the full report here: How do we Engage Communities in Climate Action


Climate Q&A with MaREI Researchers

For Science Week 2019 we answered climate questions from the public on


  1. In light of this week’s news, what can we do about energy companies and their emissions, particularly in relation to them not reporting when they happen?

 Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir

In MaREI, we work with and advise energy companies through collaborative research projects. In these projects, we assist them both in reducing their emissions and in identifying opportunities and strategic pathways for them to lead the way in the energy transition to a low carbon future. One example includes our research with ESB on using electricity to substitute for fossil fuel use in heat (using heat pumps) and transport (using electric vehicles). A second example is our research with Gas Networks Ireland that underpinned their recent strategy to move to a net zero GHG emissions gas network by 2050.


  1. Do you think that with carbon taxes we will be able to reach our emission reduction goals, or do you think it will require other measures and if so, which ones?

 Jason Mc Guire

Carbon taxes will make up part of the solution for Ireland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets. The taxes will discourage the use of fossil fuels but we must ensure Ireland’s fuel poverty issue does not worsen so extra fuel poverty allowance in conjunction with more incentivised retrofits and less carbon intensive technologies should help us to achieve GHG targets without hurting the vulnerable.


Shane McDonagh

The problem might be in the question. As a society we greatly underestimate the scale of the change required, no one, two, or even ten solutions will do, we need everything in the toolbox. An effective carbon tax is an absolute must, but it needs to be paired with the right incentives, research and investment into new technologies, education, and infrastructural change.

I would say in addition to a carbon tax which I believe should be applied not just to fuels, we need to overhaul our planning process with an emphasis on sustainability, mandate minimum shares of renewable energy across all sectors (not just electricity), change our agricultural practices and our diets, and promote resource efficiency.

However, this all starts with an informed public voting for informed politicians who can make sure that this is done equitably.


  1. Dublin Airport passenger numbers have increased rapidly and there are even plans for an expansion. Would this expansion be a significant contributor to Ireland’s carbon emissions and if so, how should this be managed over the next 30 years?

Jason Mc Guire

No. International Aviation is a tricky sector to monitor and it is not included in Irelands GHG emissions. Instead International Aviation in monitored by the EU under the EU emission trading scheme (ETS). In 2021 the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) aims to cap global international aviation GHG emissions at 2020 levels, so International Aviation does not fall under Ireland’s GHG emissions and it is being managed by CORSIA.


Shane McDonagh

We are researching ways to produce aviation fuels from crops and electricity but it is currently very expensive and the volume required is enormous and growing.

Flying is an energy-intensive activity, and yes it would increase our emissions, but aviation emissions are difficult to count because it is not easy to tell whose balance sheet they should land on. Ireland is at a disadvantage as an island but where possible we should focus on promoting rail as it is far better for the environment, like the bullet trains in Japan.


  1. Why is it that the general public must make the changes and pay extra for the likes of coffee cups? Why aren’t we addressing the manufacturers of these products and plastics and taxing them?

Emma Verling

There is no reason why we cannot do both. Everyone should take personal responsibility for the waste they generate, both by paying for it and by disposing of it appropriately. The example of disposable coffee cups is a good one because 20 years ago, people walking around with disposable cups was a rare sight. Now it is a cultural norm, and this is what needs to change. Strategies such as taxing manufacturers are only part of the solution, but culture eats strategy for breakfast! This could be clearly seen from the introduction of the plastic bag tax 20 years ago. People’s behaviour can change overnight if they see a direct impact on their lives. And these small changes they make can then have long lasting positive impacts for the planet and everyone on it.

As a side note, I feel that the ocean plastics issue has been conflated somewhat with climate change and often both are often discussed together in the media. I think this could be confusing people – I would see them as two somewhat separate issues, though clearly the amount of waste we generate and how it’s disposed of will impact climate change.


Jason Mc Guire

We should be but it is a slow process when addressing manufacturers, also if consumers don’t pay for coffee cups, there will be no profit for manufacturers.


Shane McDonagh

Many manufacturers are, and by making the change now we’re encouraging more to do so. Vote with your wallet continues to send signals to these companies. A great example is buying your coffee somewhere that offers a discount to those who bring their own cup, you can pay off your cup over time with the savings, avoid waste, and hopefully, others will follow suit.

We should also set a deadline to phase out single-use plastic but in reality, if we tax companies without also promoting sustainable alternatives they will simply pass on that cost.


  1. How do we start to protect homes in coastal areas from the effects of climate change?

 Jimmy Murphy

Climate Change with the associated increases in sea levels and storm intensity challenges how we should strategise erosion and flood protection along our coastlines.  The simple truth is that given enough resources, engineering solutions could be put in place to protect all properties– after all about 4 million people are living below sea level in The Netherlands. However, this would not be practical and decisions need to be made in terms of what we should protect and what should be let go and this is where the difficulty lies.  Nobody wants to see their homes flooded or falling into the sea but in some cases, this is inevitable as the overall cost to benefit ratio will be too low to justify protection works.  For the majority of Irish coastal cities, towns, and villages it is clear that protection will be provided and this will mean building higher and wider structures such as seawalls and revetments along the seafront to hold the position of the coastline.  In other cases, where there is only a small number of properties, the decision may be to allow them to be lost.  This is happening worldwide but in some European Countries and the United States, a re-location programme is provided by the government to help the affected people.  We are beginning to hear the term ‘climate refugees’ in relation to people who have been displaced by climate change impacts and the numbers will increase in the coming years.

Reverting to the question as to how we start protecting homes, the construction of barrier structures to stop erosion or flooding is the obvious solution.  However, such structures are expensive, can negatively impact the coastal environment and often are not popular with the general public as they break the visual connection with the sea.  Therefore, there is a responsibility on engineers and scientists to develop new flexible and adaptable solutions that take advantage of the advanced forecasting and warning systems that are available.  In doing so we can help minimise the loss of property that will occur


Stephen Flood

There are a number of measures we can take over the short, medium and long term to protect homes in coastal communities. In the short term we can look at increasing property level flood defences such as the use of sandbags and mountable defences. Over the medium to long term coastal communities need to consider increased drainage, pumping to remove saltwater intrusion, and coastal barrages and barriers in combination with softer measures such as dune nourishment and planting. A longer-term option may include an element of resettlement and abandonment of some coastal dwellings where the costs of continued protection are deemed higher than the benefit of defending them. The good news is that coastal communities can start planning for the impact of increasing coastal erosion and flooding today to make their communities resilient to the coastal related impacts of climate change in the future.


  1. Do you think we’ll reach a point in Ireland where we’re able to sell electricity back to the grid? What needs to happen for that to become a reality?

 Emma Verling

This has been happening in the UK for some time, so there is no reason why it should not happen here. My understanding is that the grid infrastructure is not currently in place to allow it. This is compounded by the fact that PV solar panels etc are expensive and beyond many people’s reach. What needs to happen is that the cost of installations such as solar panels needs to come down (better grant schemes, although a new grant scheme was announced some months ago, which may help) and the infrastructure needs to be in place to allow it to be fed back to the grid to allow individuals to be paid for it.


Jason Mc Guire

 Yes. Owners of residential Solar PV panels will soon be able to sell electricity back to the grid provided they have good inverters which provide good quality electricity.


Shane McDonagh

Yes, and our electricity suppliers and network operators are planning for this. What is likely to happen is that electricity will flow both directions throughout the day for those who can install significant amounts of solar or even wind energy. For that to happen effectively our electricity grid needs to be improved and each home hoping to benefit would need a new “smart meter”.


  1. How long has climate change been going on?

Emma Verling

The climate is not static and is in a constant state of flux, but what has been happening in recent decades due to human activity is that the rate of change is far greater (more change in a shorter period of time).


Hester Whyte

The Climate has always changed and will continue to do so, but it is the rate at which it is changing that is the issue. Certain impacts are already being felt so it’s important to not ignore this.


Jason Mc Guire

Since the beginning of time, we go through Ice Ages every 80,000years and warm periods every 20,000years. We are coming out of a warm period right now. This warm period peaked about 8,000years ago then we started cooling. About 300years ago in the Industrial revolution, the human impact of climate change can be seen. Not only are we not cooling down anymore but we are heating up to record temperatures.


Dr. Clare Noone

CO2 pumped into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and other human activities are the most significant greenhouse gas contributing to the climate change we are experiencing.

In 1958, Charles David Keeling, became the first person to make frequent measurements of atmospheric CO2 concentrations on top of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. The measurements collected show an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration from 313 (ppmv) in March 1958 to 410 (ppmv) in November 2019. Before the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the global average CO2 was about 280 ppm.

Today there is a network of atmospheric stations measuring long term CO2 around the globe, and we have one of the most important ones, right here in Ireland. Mace Head atmospheric research station, Carna, Co. Galway began monitoring atmospheric observations in 1958 and today Mace Head and Mauna Loa are two of the most advanced and important sites for atmospheric observations in the world. Data from both sites are published in multiple research publications and cited by bodies such as IPCC.


Jared Peters

Climate change has likely been taking place since shortly after Earth developed an atmosphere.  However, this is something of a loaded and potentially problematic question.  Focusing on the normality of change in general without recognising the importance and severity of modern climate change would be a mistake since the anthropogenic climate change we see today is different in rate and magnitude from earlier natural counterparts.  Furthermore, mistakenly considering climate change to be less important or inconsequential because it has happened in the past would be irrational under any circumstance—akin to pondering if diseases are important because they’ve been common for a long time.


Shane McDonagh

The climate is always changing, but the man-made rapid and unprecedented change we see now is precipitated by the industrial revolution. The discovery of fossil fuels has undoubtedly been great in terms of living standards, but the population and resource consumption explosion that followed has put pressure on our planet. You can tie climate change as we know it almost directly to human-induced carbon dioxide emissions.


  1. Are we going to see more severe weather events in this country and what will they look like? 

Jason Mc Guire

Yes. More frequent and more severe. There may be nothing we can do to prevent these weather events in the next few years but if we act now maybe we can lessen the weather events after 2050.


  1. What is the estimated increase in global mean temperatures worldwide if we don’t decrease our carbon emissions?

 Jason Mc Guire

About 3-4degC by 2100


Shane McDonagh

The Paris agreement has set a limit of 2°C of warming, with an aim for 1.5°C. This might sound very small but as a global average it is hugely significant, and it hides the fact that the extremes will increase drastically. The warming is felt most at the poles too meaning ice caps will melt and accelerate the process. How much we miss our targets by is related to how much hotter it will become.


  1. Is it better for the environment to keep old appliances that aren’t as efficient until they die or to replace but then have to dispose of the old ones?

 Jason Mc Guire

Very good question and each product will have a different answer! Some questions we must ask when trying to figure this out includes – How much more efficient is the new model? How much sustainable and non-sustainable material is used in the appliance? How will the old appliance be disposed of?


Shane McDonagh

This is complicated and depends on a few factors. Something like an old petrol car being swapped for an electric vehicle tends to have an environmental benefit quite quickly, but a washing machine, for example, is tricky. It depends on how much you use it and how inefficient it is. If your fridge doesn’t seal right and is quite old, swapping it for a well-insulated and efficient new model makes sense as it is always plugged in. If you put on a wash three times a week, getting a machine that works at a lower temperature can help the planet and your pocket. Likewise when swapping an old tumble dryer for a condenser dryer that will help heat your home instead of piping the hot air outside. However, it rarely makes sense to scrap a relatively new item unless it is particularly poor performing.


  1. Why do you think there is still resistance despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that we need to act now on climate change?

 Emma Verling

I think there is resistance because the issue appears so vast and insurmountable that people think small changes they make won’t make a difference. I also think there has been a perception (incorrectly) that climate change will impact other places and not Ireland, though this is starting to change. In addition, dealing with climate change means everyone making changes in the way they live their lives and perhaps giving up conveniences that appear essential. This type of change can be difficult for people to accept when they cannot see a tangible, short term benefit to them. In addition, high profile ‘climate change deniers’ still get airtime (though this is thankfully reducing) and at times, rejecting climate change can be an anti-establishment statement.


Hester Whyte

People feel the climate change problem is much bigger than they are and therefore feel overwhelmed which has a paralysing effect, “what difference can I make?”  Showing how small changes, if done by many, can actually help is important to empower people and show them they can make a difference. It all starts with taking small steps, things like commuting to work, making sure you don’t waste energy & wear a jumper in the winter indoors, recycling, reusing and reducing waste and generally just stop & think about what you’re doing is really important. The power lies in getting people on board so one becomes many and the responsibility lies with us all. It’s a joint problem and requires a joint effort.


Jason Mc Guire

Some people have hidden interests and put people before profits another reason is lack of education.


Dr Clare Noone

People don’t react well to hearing information they don’t want to know.

Climate denial or climate inaction seems to be more about identity and ideology than it is about the scientific evidence. We see in the United States, how climate denial has become politicised. People don’t react well to hearing information they don’t want to know! Denial or apathy seems to be the easier, less painful option.

Social Science shows that if rejecting climate science is related to your core identity, then more scientific evidence won’t persuade you to change your mind. Sometimes these people feel like they are being attacked personally, so they dig in and double down on their viewpoint.

The best way to reach people is to give them more information on how Climate Change will affect them personally. Are they worried about the economy? Are they worried about their Health? Are they worried about the health of the planet for future generations? All of these will be negatively impacted by Climate Change and Climate inaction.

We were all born with enough human empathy to care about this climate emergency, but we need the courage to act.

…………and while some people may not want to hear it, we really do need to act now!


Shane McDonagh

It is not a problem that moves on the same timescale as people. The effects of climate change are felt generation to generation, not day to day. Though they are accelerating and it will soon be hard to ignore, people are not used to planning for things where the impact on them is not obvious. We as scientists and engineers have also failed to get our message across clearly, while the other side have been very effective in spreading misinformation.


  1. How do emissions from planes compare to those from cars?

 Stephen Flood

Taking figures from the European Environment Agency the emissions per passenger per kilometre for a car ranges from 42 to 55 grams of CO2 compared to 285 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometre for a plane. It’s interesting to note that traveling by train uses only 14 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometre!

These figures are based on a number of assumptions and when you drill into the detail the results become more complex. For example, when looking at plane emissions the radiative forcing* emissions need to be accounted for too.

*This indicator measures the heating effect caused by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Planes emit emissions higher in the atmosphere than land transport and this increases the impact of their airborne emissions!

Furthermore, the car calculation above is based on occupancy by four people. However, with occupancy often much closer to 1-2 people the car pollution figure increases to 110 g for 2 passengers or 220 g for 1 passenger. This holds for planes too. The plane emissions figure makes the assumption that there are 88 people on standard Boeing plane. However, if the number increases to higher passenger occupancy of say 115 passengers the CO2 figure would drop accordingly.


Shane McDonagh

It’s like comparing apples and oranges, not easy. Planes emit much more but they also carry many more people, and often to places cars can’t go. A plane full of people flying from Cork to Donegal beats each person driving, or even perhaps carpooling, but it wouldn’t beat electric vehicles charged by wind energy. So the issue is complex. In general, though, it is very hard to run a plane on renewable energy, but we’re almost there with cars.


MaREI Researchers at the Ecological Vehicles and Renewable Energies Conference


At the recent EVER (Ecological Vehicles and Renewable Energies) conference in Monaco, from 11 to 13 of April, there were three papers presented from MaREI researchers.

These were:

  • Offshore Renewable Energy Systems: Solutions for Reduction in Operational Costs Romano Capocci, Gerard Dooly, Daniel Toal
  • Applying Hardware-in-the-Loop capabilities to an ocean renewable energy device emulator James F. Kelly, Ross Christie
  • Energy Storage Solutions for Offshore Wave and Tidal Energy Prototypes Dónal B. Murray, Paul Gallagher, Ben Duffy, Vincent McCormack

Also MaREI’s Dr Sara Armstrong received an outstanding contribution award for organising the special session entitled “Offshore and Marine Renewable Energy: Conversion and Transmission” at the conference.

Blog Post: Don’t Fear the Wind – Connor McGookin

Can community owned wind farms overcome the stigmas surrounding wind energy?

Climate KIC “Pioneers Into Practice”

“Pioneers into practice” is a mobility program that encourages moving out of your comfort zone and learn about new approaches and opportunities emanating from climate change challenges. MaREI researcher Alessia Elia is taking part during the summer 2017.

International Day of Education

We asked our researchers:
“Why do you think inclusive, equitable and quality education for all is important?”

​International Women in Engineering Day

An international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry

Would you pack just one set of clothes for a two-week holiday? Of course not.

A great Opinion Piece from MaREI researcher Seán Collins on how Europe could thrive on green energy.

“Would you pack just one set of clothes for a two-week holiday? Of course not, because the future is uncertain and it’s important to plan appropriately to ensure the best possible outcome.

It’s only right you wouldn’t plan an electricity system based on a single year’s weather data, you’d use long-term data to make sure that system planned is reliable and fit for purpose”

You can download a PDF of the article here:Evening Echo 30.8.18 Sean Collins

Research that will aid fishing industry and save seals too

Cian hopes his research will ultimately allow us to take a more pro-active than reactive approach to fisheries management, and ensure that fisheries and seals co-exist sustainably and long into the future.

Read more about his work in this Evening Echo article:


You can download a PDF of the article here: Evening Echo 28.8.18 Cian Luck


                                  Full house at the at the European Parliament SEARICA conference Mission Ocean: Science and Innovation for a Healthy Ocean

MaREI’s EPHEMARE team Kathrin Kopke and Sophie Power travelled to Brussels to attend the SEARICA conference Mission Ocean: Science and Innovation for a Healthy Ocean on the 10th of April 2018 at the European Parliament. The conference focused on discussing the issue of marine plastic pollution with international and cross-sectorial guests and coinciding with the Ocean Plastics Lab visit to the European Parliament as part of its travelling exhibition. The Invitation to this event and displays at the Parliament utilised an image submitted to the EPHEMARE photo-contest which was facilitated through MaREI.

EPHEMARE researchers from left to right: Camilla C. Carteny (University of Antwerp), Kathrin Kopke and Sophie Power (MaREI, University College Cork) at the European Parliament event.


Panel L-R: Olga Mironenko, founder of the award-winning start-up Holy Jelly; young Indonesian activist, Melati Wijsen, co-founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags; James Honeyborne, award winning producer of the world renowned BBC Blue Planet 2 series; Gesine Meissner, German MEP and president of Searica; Signe Rasso, Deputy-General DG Research and Innovation; Michael Meister, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research


Ocean Plastics Lab

The Ocean Plastics Lab (OPL) exhibited in front of the European Parliament in Brussels from the 9th to the 19th of April 2018. The exhibition is a ‘hands-on’ lab, showcasing the contribution of science to understand and combat the problem of plastics in the ocean, with interactive installations, displays, and animations on loan from laboratories, research institutes and various other science and civil society partners worldwide. We were delighted to contribute images from the IMPACT2017 international microplastics photo contest, which was facilitated and implemented through MaREI.

We not only got the chance to visit and explore the exhibition in Brussels, but to directly engage with attendees of the SEARICA conference at the OPL at Container 3, which exhibits the EPHEMARE contributions.


                                                            The Ocean Plastics Lab outside the European Parliament Buildings


Sophie Power (MaREI, UCC), Kathrin Kopke (MaREI, UCC) and Camilla C. Carteny (University of Antwerp) visiting the Ocean Plastic Lab at the guided tour for attendees of the European Parliament SEARICA Conference Mission Ocean: Science and Innovation for a Healthy Ocean

Kathrin Kopke (MaREI, UCC) talking about the EPHEMARE photo-competition at container 3 of the OPL


The event attracted many members of the media

Are our storms getting worse or is it that weather forecasters are better informed?

It’s the first severe weather alert of the autumn but it won’t be the last time the question is asked before the season ends – whether it’s just perception or if the weather really is getting worse?

And if it’s the latter, how much of the blame can climate change carry?

Perception does play a part – before Hurricane Charley in 1986, we weren’t given to giving storms human characteristics but now we’re on first-name terms with every blow-in.

Katia, Darwin, Eva, Ophelia, Emma, Ali and Bronagh, to name a few, have all stopped by in the last few years and their exotic cousin, Lorenzo, may be about to drop in too.

But is it their naming that makes them memorable or that they visited us at all?

In the last few years, Twitter and Facebook have hosted eruptions of outrage over pictures of feckless parents allowing children to walk promenades while mini- tsunamis crash to shore, and thrill-seeking watersports enthusiasts being forcibly rescued while trying to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime waves.

But is it really their apparent imminent peril or simply proliferation of social media that makes their situation appear so alarming?

We’ve seen trampolines taking off, bouncy castles in the air and sports hall roofs ripped open like sardine cans.

But is it possible we just didn’t have such elaborate back garden paraphernalia in the past and built public facilities in a less slapdash fashion?

In other words, have we always weathered such storms but we didn’t notice, were more stoic or had less to lose?

Every county in the country is in the process of publishing a climate adaptation plan.

They are all drawn from a common template that explains the reason for their necessity and provides some fascinating weather history.

In Dublin, between Charley in 1986 and Bronagh in September 2018, there were 17 other “major climatic events” that caused various degrees of mayhem – freakishly heavy rainfall, unprecedented heat, the highest tide ever recorded, the strongest gust ever measured, the worst cold ever experienced, the most extensive flooding ever endured, the longest drought in memory.

The Cork plan records 22 such incidents that caused serious problems in the county over the same period, while in Galway there were 25.

Storm Darwin in February 2014 was ranked a one-in-20-year event with gusts of up to 110kmh and 8,000 hectares of forest felled. But then Storm Ophelia hit in October 2017 with gusts of 150kmh.

She also made the record books by being the first of her kind to come from the south.

Only two months later Storm Dylan followed, bringing gusts of 120kmh and whipping up already high seas to cause substantial coastal flooding along the west and north west coasts.

Suddenly ‘one-in-20-year events’ don’t sound so rare.

By serious problems, we’re talking millions of euro in damage to homes, businesses, public buildings, roads, sea walls, trees, telecommunications and recreation facilities, as well as loss of life.

Hurricane Lorenzo, if he hits Ireland, could bring all of the above. According to Met Éireann, he is “the eastern-most and northern-most category 5 hurricane ever recorded in Atlantic Ocean”.

He is expected to lose strength and be reclassified as an “extra-tropical” storm when he reaches a latitude of 49 degrees North, which would be about 1,000km off the southwest of Ireland.

By comparison, Met Éireann said Storm Ophelia in October 2017 retained its hurricane status until it was within 500km of Ireland.

So on the latest evaluation, bearing in mind assessments can change, he’s not as fierce as Ophelia but still formidable.

And while he might swing away from Ireland, he could just charge straight through.

Even if he doesn’t, it’s only early October, the very beginning of the dark months, and the experience of recent years suggests it’s highly likely another of his kin will come knocking before the brighter mornings return.

Dr Barry O’Dwyer of University College Cork is principal researcher on the project, an information platform for local authorities and the public.

He stressed he’s not a weather forecaster but said that the incidents of extreme weather in recent years have lived up to the warnings of climate forecasters.

“It is difficult to attribute individual events, as they happen, to climate change but the projections all indicate that we are expecting to see more extreme weather events of higher intensity and that does seem to be played out in recent times,” he said. “Ireland’s climate has changed.

“We’ve seen increased temperatures here that are directly comparable to what we’ve seen on a global basis.

“We’re seeing changes in patterns of precipitation, we’re seeing sea levels rise. And if we start to think about these extreme storms in that context then we’re really vulnerable.”


Article via The Irish Independent

Stop, Collaborate and Listen for better Ocean Science – Part 1

In July, MaREI researcher Abigail Cronin set sail from Dublin port on the RV Celtic Explorer as part of a scientific crew of nine. The team consisted of three Marine Institute (MI) personnel, two Training Through Research Survey scheme (TTRS scheme) participants, one BEAMS participant, three scientists from the University of New Hampshire (UNH), and the full Celtic Explorer crew. The sixteen day cruise aimed to map a portion of the seabed within Irish waters, approximately 80 nautical miles south of Cork, as part of the INFOMAR project.



While on the cruise, Abi wrote some Marine Institute blogs describing why she was on the cruise and what it consisted of.

Learning on The Job

So, think about it, there you are standing on Dublin port looking up at Ireland’s largest research vessel, the Celtic Explorer. You shuffle up the gangway with your bag slung over your shoulder after a friendly Donegal accent points you in the direction of the dry lab. As you walk into the room, colourful animations and flashing buttons jump out of the dozen or so monitors lining the walls. You hear the buzz of excited marine scientists from around the globe double checking their devices are in working order, as the smell of Tony and Gavin’s freshly made apple pie wafts up the stairs. You are one of two people given the opportunity to learn the skills of seabed mapping from the national experts. But how?

Figure 1 – Left: Oisin McManus from the INFOMAR team in the dry lab. Right: Tony and Gavin – the chefs onboard the Celtic Explorer.


Two applicants, John Skehan and Abi Cronin, were chosen to take part on the INFOMAR survey from July 21st to August 6th 2017 as part of the Training Through Research Surveys (TTRS) scheme. This initiative, collaboratively organised by the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) and the Marine Institute (MI), acts as a national capacity building exercise to raise the level of marine science in Ireland, while giving early career researchers the opportunity to network with and learn from experienced marine scientists. Participants gain valuable marine data collection and observation experience on dedicated research surveys with leading Irish and European marine scientists. This programme is designed to provide mentored training for emerging marine scientists on surveys taking place off the western seaboard of Ireland and ranging as far as Newfoundland.


Figure 2 – Abi & John in the dry lab onboard the RV Celtic Explorer


John and Abi come from very different backgrounds with John’s initial degree being in IT. He recently completed an MSc in Geographical Information Systems & Remote Sensing at Maynooth University, and is currently working in the Surveying and Remote Sensing unit at Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI). Abi has an MSc in Coastal and Marine Management from University College Cork, and works in the Earth Observation Group of the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI). Both participants have a strong interest in mapping the seabed, however before this cruise they had very little experience actually collecting the data. This voyage allows them to throw themselves in the deep end and learn on the job.


Figure 3 – Abi & John keeping in contact with the bridge and deck crew


Onboard, Abi and John have undertaken quite an array of tasks, the most obvious being coordination of the three multibeam echosoudners: EM1002, EM302, and EM2040. While in charge of these devices, the scientists must know how to create new transect lines; look out for any anomalies in the data; activate lines for the ship’s autopilot; contact the bridge to inform the skipper of any line turns or change of plan; input Moving Vessel Profiler cast (MVP) data; as well as ensure the multibeam, backscatter and water column data is being stored appropriately.


Figure 4 – John & Abi in the dry lab onboard the Celtic Explorer


The scientists also took charge of communications and logistics for CTD (Conductivity Temperature Depth sensor) casts and sediment grab stations, ensuring all data was collected safely and efficiently. To keep the data organised, we log each MVP, multibeam line, grab and CTD both in digital and paper format. This includes keeping a logbook up to date, and working with different navigation and metadata software: QINSY and Multilogger. For more information on INFOMAR’s toolbox you can read the most recent blog here.


Figure 5 – Left: A CTD device coming out of the water. Right: Abi keeping in contact with the bridge and deck crew


The TTRS scheme increases the national marine science research capacity through coordinated use of national infrastructure and facilities. This opportunity has allowed John and Abi to develop their skills, add to their existing seagoing experience, and network with established professionals in seabed mapping and oceanography.


A message from the author:

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to SMART Sea School for making this all possible through the TTRS scheme. This was a fantastic chance to work with the INFOMAR team Oisin, Kevin & Slava, as well as the scientists from the University of New Hampshire and College of Charleston. It’s been a pleasure learning from people who are enthusiastic about their research. Last, but most certainly not least, a massive thank you to the crew for making this such an enjoyable experience. Always open to questions and happy to share your stories, you took us in and made us feel welcome. All in all, an enjoyable learning experience. I hope to work with you all again in the future. In the meantime, I’ll be putting the knowledge we’ve gained to good use in MaREI.


Figure 6 – Blue skies on the RV Celtic Explorer in July 2017


Anything else you want to know? You can catch me on twitter at: @Abi_Cronin

International Marine Governance: Sarah Twomey

Sarah is an Ocean Governance PhD student focusing on stakeholder participation in governance processes in complex transboundary marine contexts.

Making waves in offshore wind energy


MaREI Researchers visiting University of Zagreb

MaREI Researchers from UL, Daniel Toal and Edin Omerdic, gave a talk at the University of Zagreb, under the EXCELLABUST project

Ash Bennison and Cian Luck Podcast On The Life Of Marine Ecologists

This episode of the That’s What She Said Podcast features Ashley Bennison and Cian Luck, two marine ecologists from the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy, Cork, Ireland.

Ash gained his MSc in Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Exeter and after working with Siberian Jays in Swedish Lapland, moved to UCC where he has been a researcher for the past 3 years and is currently studying for his PhD in seabird ecology.

Cian graduated from UCC in 2012 with a BSc in Zoology, and again in 2013 with an MSc by research. He has spent 18 months as a zoological field assistant with the British Antarctic Survey on Bird Island, South Georgia. We speak of the enchanting life of researchers on expeditions, the difference between grey seals + harbour seals, the sedate creatures who reside in the Galapagos, the stress of cooking for strangers and much much more. All in all, our self proclaimed ‘bird nerds’ take us on a flight so compelling that we wanted more.

The hour features music from Bjork, Fleetwood Mac and Stornaway.

Future Earth Coasts


Future Earth Coasts who has an International Project Office based in MaREI had the privilege to help craft, coordinate, and deliver a capacity building workshop entitled ‘Utilising Earth Observation to support Blue Growth and Risk Management in the Caribbean’. The workshop, funded by the European Space Agency and held in St Lucia, was a collaborative effort between Future Earth Coasts, the Organisation for Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), University College Cork/MaREI(UCC), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the World Bank.


The four-day event brought together experts from Member and Associate Member States of the OECS, the University of the West Indies, UCC, the University of South Floridathe Department of Environment-Belize, and representatives from the private sector, ACRI-HE.


The event was designed to explore how Earth Observation (EO) data could be used to help support regional and local research efforts in four key issue areas.

  1. Fisheries and Aquaculture
  2. Maritime Safety and Security
  3. SargassumInfluxes into Coastal Systems
  4. Climate Change and Risk Reduction


The outputs of this workshop, were produced in the form of a roadmap, to clearly articulate regional priorities that were identified during the event

Ireland’s plan for electric vehicles will reduce emissions, but may come at a cost

New research shows that the current plans for vehicle electrification in Ireland may reduce transport emissions by up to 70%, but could result in losses to the exchequer as high as €340m per year by 2030

The level of emissions coming from Ireland’s transport sector are undeniably high, which is of particular concern when considering the country’s commitment to a future with lower levels of greenhouse gases, ratified by the 2015 Paris Agreement. The long-term solution to this problem is to shift people from buying heavily-polluting petrol and diesel cars over to more sustainable fuels, with a particular focus being given to electricity. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, announced an ambition last year in the National Policy Framework for Alternative Fuels that by 2030 all new cars and vans sold in Ireland will be zero-emissions capable. In the same report, an ambition of having 800,000 electric passenger cars on Irish roads was declared, which is challenging considering that just 882 electric cars were sold in 2017, covering 0.7% of total sales, bringing the total stock of electric cars up to 3,580.


Researchers from University College Cork, the Danish Technical University, and the University of California, Davis have worked together to build a model capable of understanding why the uptake of electric vehicles in Ireland has been so low, despite a €5,000 grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland alongside an exemption from Vehicle Registration Tax up to €5,000. The model found that the concept of range anxiety – the fear of not being able to get to your destination because your car runs out of charge – had a role to play in this slow uptake, but an even greater barrier identified was the lack of variety of electric vehicles currently available for sale in Ireland.


“Car buyers in Ireland are all different, some may want a family car in a particular type of red, while others may want a dark blue car adept to city driving”, says Eamonn Mulholland, a researcher at MaREI, the Marine and Renewable Energy Centre in University College Cork’s Environmental Research Institute. “If you start looking for a particular type of car, you have hundreds of options of petrol and diesel cars to buy, so you’re likely to find what you’re looking for. If you restrict your search to electric cars, you are much more limited in your choice. If we’re to see more electric cars on the road, there needs to be more choice in the type of electric cars available”.


This becomes problematic, as there are no Irish based car manufacturers, and the motor industry is entirely dependent on foreign manufacturers to produce a greater variety of electric vehicles before offering more choice to Irish buyers. The model built by Mulholland and his colleagues showed that achieving 800,000 electric cars on Irish roads by 2030 would be technically possible, only if there is a substantial increase in varieties of electric cars available in the coming decades complemented by a continued reduction in the cost of batteries.


While achieving this ambition aids significantly to Ireland’s commitment in lowering emissions, it might also come at a cost to the exchequer. At the moment, Vehicle Registration Tax is based on the level of CO2 emissions that a car emits, so if you buy a low-emitting electric car, less revenue will be received by the exchequer. This adds up considerably if all new cars bought by 2030 are electric powered, equating to over €340m per year by 2030 when compared against a ‘no change’ scenario when you also consider lower amounts of income from annual motor tax, VAT, and, most significantly, losses from excise fuel duty. The cost is however justified by an expected reduction in CO2 emissions by 70% in the private car sector by 2050 when compared against 2015 levels.


Mulholland and his team believe their model could be used to assist national policy makers to understand what is the best way to encourage the sales of electric vehicles and to enable a smooth transition with minimum loss to the exchequer. “Changing what fuels we use for our every-day commute is an essential step towards reducing national emissions and ensuring a cleaner environment,” says Mulholland. “With adequate planning, the cost of this change can be minimised. Despite the cost incurred, this change remains imperative in adhering to our climate pledges.”


This work was supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, Innovationsfonden, Denmark, and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) MaREI Centre, with additional funding through the Irish Fulbright Commission.


Transportation Research Part D, Mulholland, E. et. al.: “The cost of electrifying private transport – Evidence from an empirical consumer choice model of Ireland and Denmark”

DOI: 10.1016/j.trd.2018.04.010

MaREI researcher on North South Atlantic Training Transect 2016

MaREI’s Abi Cronin was amongst twenty-five researchers chosen from a pool of five-hundred to take part in the North South Atlantic Training Transect (NoSoAT) 2016. Here she gives us a brief account of her experience…


On the 10th of December applicants from eighteen different countries travelled to Bremerhaven to participate in the opportunity to train in marine research on board a German research vessel. The overall goal of the program is to allow early career professionals to learn more about practical marine science and it’s link to climate change. The educational program focused on different topics including oceanography, remote sensing, ocean law, the ocean’s role in climate change, and scientific art. We were rocked to sleep every night for one month on board the RV Polarstern travelling from Bremerhaven to Capetown, with a brief stop off in Las Palmas.

The multidisciplinary approach allowed for a rich array of weather, climate, atmosphere and ocean research and measurements. This encouraged us to build a network of contacts from several different backgrounds. Various social nights were held to encourage this networking, including a BBQ as a reward for making it through the equator baptism, where we were put through our paces in the name of King Neptune.

nosoat-3 nosoat-2

Participants measured ocean temperature, salinity, oxygen, chlorophyll and pH using an XBT (Expendable Bathythermograph), CTD (Conductivity, Temperature and Depth), UCTD (Underway CTD) and various lab analyses including flow cytometry. This enabled us to gain skills in offshore data collection with instruments a lot of us previously had no experience using.


By mapping our measurements along the north-south transect of the Eastern Atlantic we could identify water masses by their characteristic temperatures and salinity. Below we can see three water masses identified along the transect, these include the Mediterranean Outflow Waters (MOW), the Antarctic Intermediate Waters (AAIW), and the North Atlantic Deep Waters (NADW).

This research is key to observing the ocean and atmosphere’s role in climate variations, it allows us to explain weather patterns and build more accurate predictive models. Ultimately, this research helps us to understand climate change.

I would like to thank all the sponsors of the NoSoAT Program for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and it has fuelled my ambition to investigate the oceans through offshore measurements.


About the Author:

Abi is a Research Assistant in the Earth Observation Group of MaREI. She graduated from UCC with a MSc in Coastal and Marine Management in February 2016, and joined the MaREI team the same month. At the moment, Abi is working on the ESA funded CINMarS and EODAT projects, as well as the H2020 funded Co-ReSyF project. She is extremely interested in offshore measurements and data.

For more information on Abi, please see her UCC research profile

Different Perspectives on the Energy Transition

The Environmental Research Institute hosted a joint seminar with the University of FH Burgenland, Austria on Friday, November 4th on Different Perspectives on the Energy Transition.

Carbon tax and Budget 2017

Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir examines how the Government could demonstrate a commitment to climate action and have more money to spend on budget day.

TG4 interviews MaREI Researcher at Cork Science Festival

MaREI researchers took part in the Celebrate Science Open Day at UCC on Sunday Nov 13th as part of the Cork Science Festival…

MaREI at family events during Cork Science Festival

Its that time again, Cork Science Festival returns. This year is bigger and better than ever, with MaREI involved in two day events, suitable for all the family…

Oceantec WEC heads to bimep

Oceantec wave energy converter is en route to the Biscay Marine Energy Platform (bimep) for the upcoming testing campaign.

5 Questions on Climate Change

Professor John Sodeau discusses climate change and what Ireland can do to play its part in the fight against the phenomenon termed global warming…