Trinity economist to lead Irish participation in EU energy project

Posted on: 27 May 2019

Economist, Professor Eleanor Denny will lead the Irish participation in a large European Commission Horizon 2020 project on decentralised energy production and greater social participation in energy supply which has just been awarded €2.5 million.

The project entitled SocialRES will examine social innovation initiatives in the energy sector and will  employ innovative techniques such as a Peer to Peer (P2P) crowd-investing for renewable energy sources (RES) projects, P2P lending and a virtual RES energy aggregator platform. The SocialRES team combines partners from a range of disciplines together with industry expertise to develop a comprehensive understanding of the strengths and limitations of the current renewable energy system to foster social innovation and to shape a roadmap for a future, more innovative system.

Professor Denny will lead the Irish participation in the SocialRES project and joins a team of researchers from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Romania and the UK.  Professor Denny’s research will explore factors affecting initial and continued involvement for customers who have already engaged with aggregators, crowd-funders and cooperatives and will also examine attitudes of the general public regarding engagement with future social innovation projects across seven countries.

Speaking about the award Professor Denny said: “This is an exciting area of research with the potential to lead to ground-breaking developments in the design of energy policy across the EU and beyond.  There is currently a lack of evidence on what motivates people to engage in socially innovative energy projects and how greater participation can be encouraged. SocialRES brings together a team of world-class researchers from across Europe to examine the effectiveness of socially innovative renewable energy projects and to test new and exciting alternatives.  It will provide an excellent platform to improve and refine EU energy policy with the potential to deliver significant environmental and cost savings.  It will also reinforce Ireland’s position as a leader in this area internationally and will help to grow capacity in this critical field.”

The Chair of the Irish Research Council, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer also commended the award and said: “I am delighted that Dr Denny has received this highly competitive and prestigious grant and would like to congratulate her on this achievement. A New Horizons 2015 grant from the Irish Research Council allowed her to lay some of the groundwork for this, her second successful H2020 application.  It is wonderful to see excellent Irish researchers ? like Dr Denny ? perform with such distinction at the European level”.

Professor Denny is also coordinator of the Horizon 2020 project CONSEED

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