Maynooth University received €250,000 under SFI’s National Challenge Fund to investigate community engagement in the green energy transition. From left to right, Dr Amy Fahy, lecturer in the School of Business, Peter Hamilton, Chair of Maynooth Sustainable Energy Community and Prof Fabiano Pallonetto, School of Business.


New MU project supports green energy transition


Researchers at the School of Business, Maynooth University, have received Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding for an innovative citizen engagement project to harness business and community participation in the green energy transition.

SFI’s National Challenge Fund has awarded the researchers €250,000 to advance this innovative project, with a further two researchers to join the team as a result of this funding.

The team aims to drive change towards green energy and climate action by bringing the local community into the research process, making their needs central to the project, and facilitating knowledge sharing with key MU academics, particularly in the area of renewable and smart energy systems.

Over the next 18 months, the researchers will work with local organisations to identify and address their energy transition needs, creating a suite of tools and resources, including a targeted micro-credential course.

The MU project is one of 47 competing in the National Challenge Fund – receiving initial funding totaling more than €13 million to work on solutions to major environmental and societal issues.

Commenting on the ambitious goals of the project, Prof Fabiano PallonettoSchool of Business and lead researcher said: “We are delighted that our project RENEW has been selected by SFI for funding. We see huge potential for our local community to show leadership in the green energy transition. Our aim is to work closely with the local community, and together explore how Maynooth and Kildare can become an active node of the electrical grid through the co-creation of smart energy management systems.”

Dr Amy Fahy, School of Business and co-lead on the project, noted the unique methods employed by the project that involve the community: “This is a perfect example of engaged research at Maynooth University. We are taking a community first approach, addressing the research needs of our local community of Kildare, and creating a process where we can build tools and resources that specifically address community needs, while also providing us with valuable knowledge that can be shared both nationally and internationally.”

Speaking at the launch of the National Challenge Fund, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD said: “These teams have presented ingenious ideas and committed their talents to working for the benefit of the people of Ireland. We see examples in the news most days of why Ireland needs to work at the green transition and digital transformation and ensure that our innovation and research prepare the country for the future. In fact, the solutions being worked on in all eight challenges in the National Challenge Fund have the potential not just to improve life here in Ireland, but across Europe and around the world.”

The National Challenge Fund was established under the government’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), funded by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. The fund is coordinated and administered by Science Foundation Ireland.