I should first explain that my Department provides resources for competitive research funding allocated through calls managed by Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council. This is in addition to the research funded by Higher Education Institutions through their block grants. While research is typically relevant to societal issues, specific sectoral issues such as the development of offshore wind energy is a matter for the relevant Department.
As the Deputy notes, I recently announced the NexSys Partnership at UCD. This initiative, which will be led by the UCD Energy Institute is a new €16 million strategic research partnership aimed at decarbonising the Irish energy sector. Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has awarded €8 million to the project and this has been matched by philanthropic donations and the NexSys industry partners.
Other relevant research programmes which are currently open, providing opportunies for collaboration, include:
- the SFI Strategic Partnership Programme, which is a flexible mechanism for academic researchers to build strategic collaborations with key stakeholders;
- the SFI Spokes Programme, which enables the addition of new industrial and academic partners and projects to existing SFI Research Centres, allowing them to expand in line with new priorities and opportunities;
- calls for proposals under a new National Grand Challenges Programme (NGCP) will be launched in the coming months. A fund of €71.6M over the period 2022-2026 has been allocated and research programmes funded under the NGCP may include the areas outlined by the Deputy;
- MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine research and innovation at UCC conducts research into hydrogen fuel in collaboration with their partners, for example, the New H-Wind Project to Advance Development of Hydrogen Energy in Ireland;
- ICRAG, the SFI Research Centre in Applied Geosciences also focuses on this area with research that investigates large scale hydrogen generation using unpurified water; and
- AMBER, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research has projects looking at high-surface area materials for energy storage and conversion.