Staff and students in the Discipline of Civil Engineering conduct research across a wide range of areas in the field of Energy Engineering with a strong focus on Offshore Energy and Energy in Buildings.
It is acknowledged that ICT must provide a fundamental role in any future energy research activity. It is also recognised that energy, environment and climate are closely coupled and present urgent social challenges for which engineering can provide opportunities for the development for both technological and business innovation. Thus, Environmental Engineering and Informatics provide key roles for many of the Energy research projects being carried out by our group at NUI Galway.
Offshore energy describes all of those energy resources available below, within or above our oceans. This includes both finite fossil fuel resources in the form of sub-sea oil and gas fields and renewable energy resources contained in waves, tides and offshore winds.
Oil and gas currently supply approximately 60% of Europe's primary energy demands; approximately half of these supplies are sourced offshore. As onshore oil and gas reserves are depleted, the more inaccessible offshore reserves will become increasingly important. Sustainable energy resources contained in waves, tide and offshore, winds while relatively untapped to date, are also set to play an important role in satisfying our future energy demands in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
The development of technologies that will allow us to access and extract offshore energy safely, efficiently and with minimal environmental impact is therefore of critical importance. Ireland has an ocean territory of 220 million acres, which is significantly greater than its land territory. This ocean territory, which lies mostly off the West coast of Ireland, has the potential to produce energy from a number of sources including wind, wave, oil and gas, and bio‐fuels. The wind and wave energy potential in this region are among the most significant in the world.
For over 30 years NUIG has been active in the field of ocean engineering and ocean energy. Staff and students in the Discipline of Civil Engineering conduct research across a wide range of areas in the field of Offshore Energy. However, this research can broadly be described under four main categories:
1. Resource Assessment: researchers use numerical models to simulate waves and tides and currents in offshore environments and use these to quantify the available energy resources. Measured data is also used for resource assessments.
2. Design of Energy Infrastructure: researchers use structural analysis techniques to design and analyse offshore energy structures (and ancillary equipment such as risers and mooring systems) and to develop methods for the monitoring of structural health, all with a view to maximising the design life of these structures.
3. Increased Energy Extraction: researchers use numerical and physical modelling techniques to identify ways of increasing energy extraction from wave energy devices and tidal stream turbines through optimisation of device design and investigation of the interaction between devices in large array configurations.
4. Hydro-environmental Impact Assessment: researchers use numerical and physical modelling techniques to investigate the hydro-environmental impacts of the physical presence of wave/tidal energy devices as well as the associated energy extraction processes, with a view to minimising such impacts.
Energy & Buildings
Buildings consume 40% of worldwide energy and are responsible for in excess of 30% of CO2 emissions. It is now widely recognised in the academic and business worlds that energy efficiency in buildings provides significant environmental and economic challenges/opportunities.
Buildings and networks of buildings (campuses, cities) are now recognised worldwide as an energy sector specific field that demands that both the academic and industrial sectors collaborate in order to solve the complex engineering problems posed by the inefficient use of energy in this sector.
The future design, construction, operation and recycling of buildings requires new ways of thinking (buildings as net energy producers), new business models (PPP, cities of the future), new technologies (materials, renewable energy technologies, power electronics, control systems, ICT to support complex systems integration, complex energy systems integration).
NUIG has established research strengths in this sector with researchers actively engaged. NUIG researchers are represented as Principal Investigators in SFI CSET's (DERI) & SRC's (ITOBO), Enterprise Ireland, EPA and FP7 projects relating to the Energy & Buildings sector.
NUI Galway Civil Engineering academic staff have been selected (through competitive proposals and established industrial collaboration) to underpin the recently established IDA funded International Energy Research Centre (IERC) and the IDA/EI established Competence Centres ‐ I2E2.