Mark Poland, UCC; Margie McCarthy, Director of Research and Policy Insights at SEAI and Dr Val Cummins founder of Simple Blue Energy, pictured at the SEAI Energy Awards recently.

Energy leaders win big at SEAI Awards

Cork carried off 3 of the top awards at this year’s SEAI Energy Awards this week, showing the county’s green credentials.

There were 37 finalists shortlisted from 107 entries to this year’s SEAI Energy Awards with projects delivering combined energy savings of €36 million.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) announced 3 Cork winners out of a total of 12 at its first in-person ceremony in three years.

Among the winners were University College Cork’s energy team who took home the top award for Energy Team/Energy Manager of the Year, the ORE offshore renewable group from UCC MaREI research centre who took the award for Excellence in Energy Research and Innovation and Dr Val Cummins, founder of Simply Blue Energy in Kinsale who won Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Energy.

UCC has a student-led, research-informed and practice-focused Green Campus programme. The team has encouraged capital investment in UCC to reduce its overall energy consumption. Since 2016, they have implemented over 100 energy efficiency projects. These range from lighting upgrades, building management system upgrades and building retrofits. They commenced their heating decarbonisation programme in 2021.

ORE Group MaREI UCC took the award for Excellence in Energy Research and Innovation and won a €10,000 bursary to support their research.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Group, in the MaREI research centre at UCC, coordinated a Horizon 2020 project, MaRINET2, over 5 years.

These facilities test marine energy devices and include test tanks, wind tunnels, field test sites, component test facilities, and other cross-cutting research facilities.

Dr Val Cummins received the Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Energy Award for her impressive work in the ocean sector.

Dr Cummins is the Operations and Projects Director for Simply Blue Energy Ireland, a blue economy developer with a focus on floating wind, wave and low-impact aquaculture. She was a founder and Director of the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC), leading the delivery of the Beaufort Building, a national maritime innovation hub.

12 awards were presented in total and the event referenced the pressing urgency of climate action and the need for the whole of society to rise to the challenge with Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan and William Walsh, CEO of SEAI both calling for a transformation in how we use energy.

Minister Ryan said the participants “are setting an example for us all, with real life solutions for a cleaner more sustainable energy future. Right across the country we are seeing a growing commitment to sustainability, from individuals, communities, businesses and public bodies. They are showing this commitment because it’s good for our environment, but it’s also good for business and makes sense for thriving communities and organisations.”

William Walsh, CEO of SEAI, said: “Never has commitment to sustainable energy been more crucial. Geopolitical and economic circumstances make it absolutely essential that we accelerate the deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and increase sustainable energy practices across all sectors. Success will mean we have a more reliable, secure, affordable and environmentally sound energy system.”

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