New EU-funded £6m Ulster University research project to transform UK energy market

ULSTER University is taking the lead in a new EU-funded £6 million cross-border project designed to help increase the use of renewable energy.

The University is undertaking the SPIRE 2 research project to look at how more heat and electricity can be stored by people in their homes and businesses to help increase renewable energy usage.

It will look at the best ways of storing electricity and heat from individual houses up to factories and other big industry users such as hospitals, communities and whole towns.

The project is part of the UK government’s plans to transform how energy will be generated, stored and used in the future, with regulator Ofgem estimating changes could save consumers up to £40 billion by 2050.

The Ultser University research project involves collaboration between Ulster University, three research institutes, including Queen’s University and 14 businesses via a cross-border Virtual Research Graduate School.

Professor Neil Hewitt, director of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at Ulster University, said the project will help modernise our energy markets.

“If consumers can store energy effectively, that will allow very high levels of renewables to be integrated into power grids globally, at the same time as putting consumers at the heart of the energy system.”

“The project will create 17 PhD studentships and will further develop six post-doctoral researchers. By creating this supply of highly-educated developers, able to transform research ideas into commercial reality, SPIRE 2 will also contribute to local economic growth. These positions are now open to applicants and offer an opportunity to be involved in strategically significant global energy research,” he added.

The SPIRE 2 project has received funding of £6 million from the EU’s INTERREG VA programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding has also been provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department for the Economy.

CEO of the SEUPB Gina McIntyre added that the project has the potential to make a “lasting impact within the renewable energy sector” and benefit everyone in the region.

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