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Improving the penetration of renewable energy using batteries: a cross national policy study

Project Supervisors

Tadhg Kennedy
PI SEAI project
Dept Chemical Sciences

Conor Little
Dept Politics and
Public Administration

Stephen Kinsella
Dept Economics - Expert
consultant to Government

Are you committed to doing research with policy impact and enthusiastic about research on energy policy that can help to address the major societal challenge of climate change? With this graduate bursary, you can pursue energy policy research with policy impact while you receive financial support and training from the University of Limerick’s new Graduate Bursaries 2030 scheme.

Project Details
The project will involve a comparative cross-national study of the impact of policies intended to influence the use of stationary batteries to improve penetration of renewable energy at all levels of the electrical grid from generation (i.e. wind farms), to transmission and distribution, to customer level (i.e. behind the meter). It aims to contribute to knowledge of policies such as grants and concessional loans, tax incentives, storage mandates, and modified feed-in tariffs, that are intended to facilitate low-cost energy storage systems, which will be essential for grid stabilisation of intermittent renewable energy sources in the future. It therefore contributes to addressing the major societal challenge of climate change by contributing to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation. It is part of a broader research project that aims to develop alternatives to lithium-ion batteries, thus mitigating the environmental and social problems that arise in battery production. Project outputs after 12 months will include a report for communication to stakeholders and a proposal for the further development of the student’s work beyond the first, funded year.

Essential:

  • Hold a first class honours or 2:1 degree in political science, other social sciences, environmental science, energy studies, another field related to this project, or has relevant professional experience;
  • A strong interest in public policy, energy policy, or related topics.
  • Where an applicant's first language is not English or they have not obtained their degree through English, applicants must satisfy the English Language Requirements of the University by completing the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam (with an overall grade level of at least 6.5 and no score below 6 in any individual part).

Desirable:

  • Holds a postgraduate (e.g., Masters) degree and/or has experience of conducting research on public policy, energy, or related topics using qualitative and/or quantitative methods;
  • Is committed to and have experience in communicating research or policy recommendations;
  • Intends to develop their research in the area of climate and/or energy policy into a PhD project;
  • Intends to apply for research funding for their PhD project, including by applying for an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship.

Supervision and Funding
The student will be enrolled in the Department of Politics and Public Administration’s MA by Research programme. They will be supervised by Dr. Conor Little in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, Prof. Stephen Kinsella in the Department of Economics, Kemmy Business School, and Dr. Tadhg Kennedy at the Department of Chemical Sciences.

The bursary will provide EU fees and a stipend of €16,000, as well as training opportunities in research career development and policy impact.

This project is part of the Low-Cost Sustainable Battery Systems for Enhanced Grid Penetration of Intermittent Renewable Energy (Principal Investigator: Dr. Tadhg Kennedy, University of Limerick), which aims to produce a low-cost sustainable battery system based on the chemistry of sodium for grid-scale storage of renewable energy, and which is funded under the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland National Energy Research Development and Demonstration programme. The Graduate Bursary is also supported by the University of Limerick and by Prof. Stephen Kinsella.

Find out more
Applications and Expressions of Interest should be sent to Dr. Conor Little, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick: conor.little@ul.ie