EirWind study reveals significant support for offshore wind farms in Irish waters

The first nationally representative survey of public perception of offshore wind farms

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

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: http://www.celticseaspartnership.eu/


This article appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of Inshore Ireland


Exploring 2 dimensions of a shift to renewable based energy systems; to what extent will systems be electrified & what are optimal levels of decentralisation?

Ireland and China to collaborate in a global climate effort

Researchers from MaREI and the Peoples Republic of China have secured €1,470,000 in funds from SFI and NSFC for a joint project on reducing CO2 emissions.


The primary focus of MARISMA is on implementing Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), a process which guides when and where human activities occur in the ocean.

Future Earth Coasts

Future Earth Coasts is a ‘community’ of organisations, scientists and practitioners from all disciplines of science, engineering, the humanities and law whose work addresses Global Environmental Change, contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and social learning.


                                  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


Co-designing opportunities towards the development of Irish offshore wind

Making waves in offshore wind energy



CREDENCE is the first funded C2C project focusing on the energy sector, exploring two key dimensions of the shift to a renewable based energy system, namely to what extent will energy systems be:

Electrified (exploring how much of our future heat and transport energy needs will be met with electricity as opposed to other options, i.e. fossil or renewable fuelled heat and transport)

Decentralised (i.e. decentralised system operation), and what are the optimal levels of decentralization for future energy systems)



What each partner brings

Each of the three project partners brings a significantly unique perspective to the problem at hand.

The perspectives of each Centre, combined with the regional differences of the three, provide the opportunity for major transformations in the nature of the energy marketplace. MaREI provides experience in central control of large-scale intermittent renewable resources, long-term energy systems modelling and in socio-economic aspects of the energy system transformation through collaboration with Economic Social Research Institute (ESRI). FREEDM provides wide area, distributed control of small-scale distributed intermittent renewable resources. EPIC in QUB provides expertise in wider scale issues of communications and the interactions between various fuel marketplaces. Each of the three brings significant partnerships to readily integrate market information and data, while also rapidly deploying new information allowing for widespread change in thought across the industry.

Key outcomes

  • Provision of a critical roadmap for utilities, policymakers and regulators to tackle the problem of upgrading the utility grid to a robust highly electrified and decentralized system
  • Training of a new generation of engineers, computer scientists and economists for the changing utility marketplace
  • Creation of a new dialogue for the research community on the sophisticated interaction between the four critical elements to changing the utility
  • Creation of a longstanding dialogue between US and European research and utility communities
  • Provision of a deep and meaningful relationship between FREEDM, MaREI and QUB


CREDENCE project can be found here

MaREI and ICORSA are awarded €4.5m EU funding for two ambitious Horizon 2020 projects

After two decades of European initiatives to promote “Responsible Research and Innovation” (RRI) in academia, R&D organisations and industrial research, this summer, MaREI, the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy at University College Cork and ICORSA (International Consortium of Researcher Staff Associations) have won two Horizon 2020 projects, collectively worth €4.5 million to research, develop and implement RRI.


The first project RRING, which stands for ‘Responsible Research and Innovation Networking Globally’ will see MaREI together with ICORSA, UNESCO and 20 other international partners tasked with developing a set of internationally approved guidelines, that promote RRI in all spheres globally.


RRING will aim to ensure that research worldwide adheres to a set of principles that ensures all future research is conducted in a sustainable and ethical way, good for society, and good for communities of people globally. The project will develop policy guidelines and standards to ensure research and innovation standards align with, for example, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as ethically agreed standards worldwide.


The EU has five priority areas (better known as ‘pillars’ or ‘keys’) they wish to promote in relation to RRI principles. These are: gender, science education, public inclusive engagement, ethics, open access with governance as the overarching key. The objective of RRING is to compare RRI practices in other regional locations worldwide with the 5 European RRI keys, with the aim of informing the European Commission of best practice.


Finally, RRING intends, as a tangible output, to create a global RRI network, which will be the sustainable vehicle for continued advancement of adopting RRI principles within all areas of endeavour. ICoRSA will lead the development of this global initiative, ensuring that researchers at all times have a voice in the development of this important initiative and network.


The second project GRRIP (Grounding RRI practices in research performing organisations) will focuses on creating RRI action plans for 5 marine and maritime research institutions. MaREI will be one of the recipient institutions of such a plan (the first in Ireland), as well as 4 other European marine and maritime institutions.  The MaREI case study will be a template for other institutions in Ireland to adopt and will pay particular attention to public engagement in all stages of governance (from RRI strategy creation to implementation and evaluation). It is anticipated that inclusive engagement will increase innovation in terms of co-creation and social innovation. This is an ambitious project, but one that UCC’s MaREI is proud to develop and lead.


Multi-model innovations in Integrated Assessment Modelling of Global, Chinese, and Irish energy-economy-environment-climate systems

Opportunities For Ireland In A Low Carbon Economy – Our 2050

Our 2050 – Opportunities for Ireland In A Low Carbon Economy builds an ambitious new strand of research expertise in Ireland on the economic opportunities arising from the transition to a low carbon economy.


The ESA-funded Earth Observation Uptake in Developing Countries (EODAT) project is demonstrating the capability for EO data to be harnessed in providing high quality geo-information services which align with ESA, World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank priorities.


EPHERMARE aims to investigate the toxic effects of microplastics on marine organisms which are currently unclear and require further research.


The eSurge project, funded by the European Space Agency, aims to increase the usage of satellite Earth Observation data in storm surge modelling and forecasting, by making it easier for the community to access and use this data.


CINMarS aims to identify mechanisms that underpin a strategy for developing stronger links and alliances between the space and maritime sectors.