Agenda and Speakers

 08.45-09.15 Arrival Tea & Coffee and Registration

Welcome: Rachel Anderson, NIRIG Chairperson & Head of External Affairs, RES Rachel Anderson

Rachel Anderson is RES’ Head of External Affairs for the UK and Ireland. RES has been at the forefront of wind energy development for over 30 years and has successfully delivered more than 12GW of wind energy capacity worldwide. Rachel has worked in the renewables industry for 10 years and is responsible for RES’ media and public affairs across UK and Ireland. Rachel holds a BA from the University of Sheffield and is member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.


Smart Systems

The DS3 programme has enabled a world-leading 65% renewables penetration on the Ireland electricity system, with the objective of reaching 75% to enable our 2020 renewable electricity targets. This session will provide an overview of the system services that are needed to facilitate the increase and the investment opportunities represented by these services. Moving closer to the 40% renewable electricity target also means optimisation of available network capacity and we will hear from NIE about optimisation of network assets as well as preparing the network for future developments in Distributed Energy Resources. The role of blockchain will also be explored, with an overview of its applications in the energy sector, setting out both opportunities and challenges towards a decentralised, sustainable and transparent energy system.

Chair: David Connolly, Chief Executive, IWEA David Connolly

Dr. David Connolly is Chief Executive at the Irish Wind Energy Association. Previously, David was an Associate Professor in Energy Planning at Aalborg University in Copenhagen where his research focused on the design and assessment of 100% renewable energy systems for electricity, heat, and transport. He graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 2007 and completed a PhD in energy modelling in 2011, both at the University of Limerick. More information is available on his website:

Andy Kelly, Senior Principal, Poyry Management Consulting Andy Kelly

System Services: Finding the Path to Investment
Andy has more than 15 years’ commercial experience in wholesale power and commodity markets with a detailed knowledge of the electricity markets in Ireland and the UK, including support schemes for renewable generators. Andy is responsible for Pöyry’s commercial modelling and valuation work in the I-SEM, leading the implementation of market changes into Pöyry in-house models and their impact on generating assets of all kinds. Andy has an excellent understanding of the commercial aspects of the electricity generation and trading markets, and wide experience in managing complex projects involving a range of stakeholders.

David McDonald, Connections Design Manager, NIE Networks

The Evolution of the Distribution Network from a Passive to Active Model David McDonald
David will speaking on optimising available network capacity, optimising the use of assets under traditional ‘passive’ approach, further optimisation of assets by moving to an ‘active’ approach, preparing the network to accommodate future developments in Distributed Energy Resources (Battery storage, EVs and developing solutions through a collaborative approach which are network complaint and commercially viable for customers.

David is the Connections Design Manager at NIE Networks based in Channel Wharf, Belfast. He has performed a number of roles within NIE Networks across asset management, construction and operations. His team looks after designs for all customer jobs greater than 200kVA for demand, Small Scale and Large Scale Generation.

Markos Romanos, Chief Operating Officer, Pylon Network Markos Romanos

Pylon Network: Unlocking the Cooperation Potential in Smart Energy Systems of the Future

Building open-source blockchain algorithms for the energy sector will enable both opportunities and challenges for a decentralised, sustainable and transparent energy system. Markos will describe how the Pylon Network, already at a demonstration stage in the Basque country, aims to leverage the potential of blockchain technology into creating the first open cooperative tool, addressed to all players of the (future) energy market.

Markos Romanos (MSc Energy & Sustainability Engineer) is the Chief Operating Officer of Pylon Network with both professional and academic experience in the implementation of sustainable technologies and their integration on our changing energy systems/markets.

10.30-11.00 Tea & Coffee Break

Smart Solutions: More with Less?

Decarbonisation of the energy sector means maximising existing network and generation assets, developing new technologies and smarter use of future low-carbon energy generation. While need generation is still required, new approaches to management, storage and integration of energy have come to the fore. In this session, expert speakers will briefly cover research into decentralised energy solutions, the role of battery storage, renewable hydrogen as facilitator of energy storage and sustainable transport, opportunities for co-location of technologies and a smart grid demonstration project. This group of industry leaders will bring together expertise, research and experience to debate the degree to which we can continue to deliver ‘more with less’, and how the balance will be struck between large-scale infrastructure projects and complex systems going forward.

Chair: Neasa Quigley, Partner, Carson McDowell Neasa Quigley

Neasa heads up the energy team at Carson McDowell, which is rated Band 1 in the Chambers Legal guide. She is a corporate lawyer specialising in M&A transactional and project finance work across with particular expertise in the Energy sector.

Dr Patrick Keatley,
Research Fellow, Centre for Sustainable Technologies, University of Ulster Patrick Keatley

New opportunities for Energy Storage
Dr. Patrick Keatley’s research focusses on the economics and policy of the transition to future low-carbon energy systems, in particular the development of system flexibility that is needed to manage very high levels of non-dispatchable renewables like wind and solar.

He was a member of the Stormont Energy and Manufacturing Advisory Group and has presented to the NI Chamber of Commerce on the challenges facing large energy users in NI. Before joining the University he worked for global energy majors on offshore engineering projects in the Americas, Middle East, Asia and Europe.

Mark Welsh, Senior Energy Manager, Energia Mark Walsh

Gencomm: Production and Storage of Renewable Hydrogen
Energia is working with Belfast Met on a world-first storage project to maximise wind farm output.  This power-to-gas project will help to optimise renewable energy in Northern Ireland by reducing wind energy curtailment and delivering zero emission gas solutions that will have a wide range of uses for industry and transport.

A Chartered Energy Manager (Energy Institute) Mark has over 38 years’ experience within the Energy Sector; his engineering career has touched on most areas of the Electricity Industry which has given him a very wide knowledge and experience. Commencing in Belfast Power Station his career has included NIE, Metering, Electrical Design & Installation, Terms of Supply, Industrial Sales, Key Account Management, Energy Marketing, Project Development and Energy Efficiency. With this commitment to the energy industry, the environment and society we all live, Mark is responsible for all energy efficiency and carbon reduction programmes in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. He is the Project Lead on the GENCOMM Wind to Hydrogen Energy Storage Interreg funded (€6m) project.

Margaret Nee, Grid Connection Manager, Brookfield Renewables Margaret Nee

Co-Location: Opportunities and Challenges
Margaret will explore the opportunities and challenges of allowing dynamic sharing of maximum export capacity (MEC) on sites with co-location of different technology types and/or separate units. The key benefit of delivering this is optimising the use of both existing and future Grid connection assets.

Margaret is a Chartered Electrical Engineer and has been working in the Irish electricity and energy sector since 2001.  Prior to becoming grid manager with Brookfield Renewable in 2015, Margaret has a background of working in Grid and electrical roles within EirGrid, SWS Energy, Bord Gais Energy and Brookfield Renewable.  Margaret is a member of the NIRIG and IWEA Grid committees and is a renewable representative on the recently established Hybrid sites working group.  Margaret specialises in Grid connection optimisation, compliance and policy development.

Felicity Jones, Partner, Everoze Felicity Jones

Felicity is a Partner at Everoze, a technical and commercial consultancy specialising in renewables and energy storage. She specialises in new energy business models and technologies in the flexibility space, providing project support, due diligence and strategic advice. Prior to joining Everoze, Felicity served as chair of the World Energy Council storage knowledge network. Felicity brings a global perspective, having lived and worked on energy strategy projects in the UK, Singapore, Norway and the Netherlands. She holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics & Economics from Oxford and MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College.

Jonathan Sandham, Smart Networks Manager, ESB Networks Jonathan Sandham

The Dingle Project

We will hear an overview of the Dingle project, an ESB initiative to deploy a range of technologies to future-proof the electricity network on the Dingle peninsula. The technologies are intended to meet the challenges of the future energy system, such as accommodating additional renewable power sources and the electrification of heat and transport, sectors which currently account for over 35 per cent of total emissions.

Jonathan is the head of Smart Networks in ESB Networks, responsible a portfolio of R&D projects and maintaining strategic roadmaps giving guidance to the Utility. This involves close interaction with policy makers, international standardisation bodies, academia, research organisations, SME's and large scale enterprise in the areas of Science, Technology, ICT and Innovation.


Northern Ireland Energy Strategy

The conference closes with a presentation on the NIRIG Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland. This document seeks to initiate a debate about the post-2020 vision for decarbonisation of the energy sector in Northern Ireland, encompassing heat, electricity, transport and a whole system view based on long-term policy certainty. The strategy highlights the important of regional investment, innovation and skills and emphasises that a modern energy system must be increasingly based on predictable and low cost energy sources.

Meabh Cormacain, Manager, NIRIG meabh Cormacain

Meabh has been with NIRIG since 2011 and comes from a background of international development work in South America and southeast Asia. NIRIG is the key trade association for renewables in Northern Ireland, representing the interests of both RenewableUK and the Irish Wind Energy Association. In her role as NIRIG Manager she leads on all policy and external affairs issues and works closely with members to further their interests in Northern Ireland through policy development, best practice and communication and networking opportunities.


 Conference finish followed by lunch