A €9.7 million ($11.9 million) cross-border research centre for renewable energy projects has been opened at Queen’s University Belfast.
The Bryden Centre for Advanced Marine and Bio-Energy Research will recruit 34 PhD students across the marine and bio-energy disciplines. The research carried out by the team includes the use of tidal power at Strangford Lough and the North Antrim Coast, ocean energy sites in Western Scotland, as well as the potential for wave and tidal power generation in Donegal.
The abundance of natural energy resources, value in organic waste and the opportunities for the circular economy in the inter-regional area have also driven the focus of the bio-energy research. The potential for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland to become leaders in marine renewable energy is seen as vast.
“The role of Queen’s University in leading the Bryden Centre for Advanced Marine and Bio-Energy Research is substantial to the University and to the entire renewable energy sector in Northern Ireland and Ireland, producing vital cross-border research” said Acting Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor James McElnay. This partnership will continue to build and expand our expertise and help to develop the next generation of leaders in renewable energy research and education.”
Speaking at the launch of the Bryden project in Belfast, Irish Government Chief Whip and Minister of State, Joe Mc Hugh TD, added that the Irish Government is delighted to be co-funding the project which will help advance valuable research into various renewable energy technologies.
Queen’s University PhD student Nuala Carr is one of the students focusing on ensuring that marine renewable energy is accepted socially in communities right across Ireland. There are many challenges facing the marine renewable energy industry currently and Carr has been given the opportunity, through the Bryden Centre, to work with both industry and government to enhance acceptability and boost renewable energy across Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Working with a number of cross-border partners including the University of Highlands and Islands, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ulster University, the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute, Donegal County Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council, the project will create the largest amount of cross-border research in this specific area to date.
The Bryden Centre was named in tribute to the late Professor Ian Bryden, who was a leading expert in marine renewable energy, with a 30-year research career in fields associated with energy and hydrodynamics. The project is funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.
The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Ireland. It is responsible for managing two EU Structural Funds Programmes, PEACE IV and INTERREG VA which are designed to enhance cross-border cooperation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society. The Programmes operate within a clearly defined area including Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and in the case of INTERREG VA, Western Scotland.
Image: Pictured at the launch of the Bryden Centre are (l-r): Professor David Rooney, Queen's University Belfast; CEO of the SEUPB, Gina McIntyre; Acting Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast, Professor James McElnay and Sam McCloskey, Queen's University Belfast.