Mary Lou McDonald TD, President, Sinn Fein

Mary Lou McDonald TD was elected leader of Sinn Féin in 2018 and is a Teachta Dála for the Dublin Central constituency for over a decade. Following the 2020 election Mary Lou became the first woman to lead the opposition in the Dáil. She has been the Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform and All-Ireland Spokesperson for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Mary Lou was also an MEP for Dublin from 2004 to 2009. Educated in Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Limerick and Dublin City University she studied English Literature, European Integration Studies and Human Resource Management.

Marie C Donnelly, Chairperson, Climate Change Advisory Council 

Marie spent thirty years with the European Commission, ultimately as Director for Renewables, Energy Efficiency and Innovation, and was a leading advocate of future oriented policies and strategies: providing a fair deal for consumers; putting energy efficiency first; and achieving global leadership in renewable energies.

Marie is a member of the Governance Committee of MaREI, and an Advisory board member of UCD Energy Institute.

Marie was the first Chairperson of Renewable Energy Ireland – an open partnership of sustainable energy associations working collectively to support the energy transition in Ireland.

She was also a non-executive director of Tipperary Energy Agency – a social enterprise for energy efficiency; and E3G, a European climate change think tank operating to accelerate the global transition to a low carbon economy.

Marie is a Senior Advisor in Brussels to Hume Brophy, a global Communications Agency.

Before joining the Commission, Marie was a Director of the Federation of Irish Chemical Industries, prior to which she was an executive with the Kerry Group.

Brian Ó Gallachóir, Professor of Energy Engineering, University College Cork (UCC) & Director of SFI MaREI Centre

Brian Ó Gallachóir is Professor of Energy Engineering at University College Cork and Director of MaREI, the €70 million SFI Research Centre for Energy Climate and Marine. Brian leads MaREI’s research on building and using energy systems models that have underpinned Irish and EU energy and climate mitigation policies and energy company strategies. Brian is also the elected Chair of the International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Programme on energy systems modelling (IEA-ETSAP) and received the Science Foundation Ireland Best International Engagement Award 2020. He has increased the transdisciplinary nature of MaREI’s research, as evidenced by the flagship Dingle Peninsula 2030 partnership project. Brian and an elected Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering, has published extensively (over 125 journal papers with nearly 8,000 citations), has a B.Sc. from TCD and a PhD from UCC.

 Barry Hayes, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, University College Cork (UCC)

Dr. Barry Hayes is a Principal Investigator in Electrical Power Systems at UCC and a Funded Investigator in the MaREI SFI Centre. Barry’s research group focuses on the electricity grid integration of sustainable energy technologies, and the operation and planning of future power systems. Barry leads a research team of two postdocs, three PhDs, and several Masters students at UCC. Barry is a Senior Member of the  IEEE, and contributes to the development of new IEEE standards in the area of smart grids.

Donna Gartland, CEO, Codema

Donna Gartland is CEO at Codema – Dublin’s Energy Agency, a not-for-profit public good company established in 1997. She is responsible for driving Codema’s mission to accelerate Dublin’s low-carbon transition through innovative, local-level energy and climate mitigation research, planning, engagement and project delivery, in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the lives of the people of Dublin. Donna has been driving the development of District Heating in Ireland for the past 8 years, and is part of the Tallaght and Dublin Docklands District Heating Schemes project teams. She is a Director at the Irish District Energy Association and at HeatWorks – Ireland’s first not-for-profit energy utility. She sits on the board of Renewable Energy Ireland, is appointed to DECC’s District Heating Steering Group, and is a member of the Women in Energy Ireland steering group.

Ivan Yates, Entrepreneur and Broadcaster

Ivan has had unique life experience in politics, business and media. A former government minister and Wexford TD for more than 20 years; an entrepreneur who founded and developed Celtic Bookmakers to employ 400 people, with €200 million turnover.
He bounced back from bankruptcy in Wales in 2012 to become a highly successful national broadcaster presenting The Hard Shoulder on Newstalk and co-presenting The Tonight Show with Matt Cooper on Virgin Media1.
In 2014 he published his best-selling autobiography, Full On with acclaimed reviews.
His original forthright style of entertaining punditry and analysis on the full range of current affairs and sport has made him a much sought after motivational public speaker at corporate and formal events. He also acts as a versatile conference facilitator/moderator, MC with a flair for asking the questions that need answering.

Jim Scheer, Head of Data & Insights, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)

Jim Scheer is Head of Data and Insights (interim) at SEAI with responsibility for policy analysis and support, energy modelling, statistics and behavioural economics remits in support of delivery of Ireland’s sustainable energy goals. He joined SEAI in 2007 and prior to that worked for the Government of South Australia. Jim holds a Professional Diploma in Advanced Management Performance from Smurfit Graduate Business School, an MSc. in Economic Policy Studies from Trinity College Dublin and a primary degree in Environmental Science from Flinders University (South Australia). 

Paddy Phelan, President, Irish Energy Storage Association (IESA)

Paddy Phelan is the current president of the Irish Energy Storage Association and the Irish BioEnergy Association. He is also an Executive Committee member of the Irish Wind Farmers Association, Member of the Chambers of Ireland Low Carbon Taskforce, and an Advisory Board Member of the European Biogas Association. Finally, Paddy is a former Board Member of SEAI 2015-2018 and a part-time lecturer in WIT in Sustainable Energy Engineering Course.

Paddy has experience across the energy sector, from energy efficiency, energy management, and renewable technologies. He is an industry expert in the retrofit process with an emphasis on social housing since 2012 and 10 years of EU project experience.

Paul Griffiths , CEO Mag Mell Energy Ireland Ltd

 Paul Griffiths qualified with a degree in geology from the Royal School of Mines, London and is a subsurface geoscientist with over 45 years’ experience. He has worked in Europe, Africa, South America and the Middle East beginning his career with Gulf Research and Development. He has been CEO of three public companies listed on the London Stock Exchange and has developed a network of government and industry contacts over many years in the energy business.

He has over 40 years’ experience in Ireland in areas including regulatory and environmental matters, gas infrastructure, gas development, gas sales, and gas storage design focussed on defining subsurface geological attributes for safe and secure gas storage. He is a contributor to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Steering Committee set up in 2021 to address Climate Change. In Trinidad he instigated and managed a pilot CO2 sequestration project designed to demonstrate an early implementation of a commercial model for safe and secure CO2 sequestration. Currently he is working on developing gas as a substitute for coal-fired power generation in the Kingdom of Morocco and developing options to address security of gas, and by inference energy, supply in the Republic of Ireland at times of high winter demand.

Based on his extensive and diverse experience he established a green hydrogen start-up in 2021 to develop niche solutions for private companies to replace carbon-emitting fuels with a secure supply of sustainable green hydrogen. The business model integrates the vast wealth of practical experience in the subsurface geological and commercial aspects of the gas business to potentially offer green hydrogen at a competitive price to private companies to develop a pragmatic solution to the Energy Transition.

 Seán Finan Chief Executive Officer, Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA)

Seán Finan B.E C.Eng MIEI, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA). He is a Chartered Engineer and holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons) Degree from National University of Ireland, Galway. Seán joined IrBEA in October 2018 and is leading IrBEA and its members for a sustainable future in bioenergy and to strategically position the Biomass, Biogas, Biofuels, Biochar, Wood fuels and Energy crop sectors to play a key role in Ireland’s Sustainability Renewable Energy Roadmap.

Siobhán McHugh, Chief Executive Officer, Demand Response Association of Ireland (DRAI)

Siobhán McHugh is CEO of the Demand Response Association of Ireland, representing 600MW of demand and embedded generation response operating in the energy, capacity and DS3 (system services) markets on the island of Ireland. Siobhán has over 15 years’ energy sector experience, having worked for Aryzta, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, the Single Electricity Market Operator and EirGrid. Most recently, she worked as a management consultant, focused on energy strategy, transformation, and major programme delivery.

Dr Colm Ó Conaill, Energy Attaché to the EU, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Colm Ó Conaill is the Brussels based Irish Energy Attaché, working in the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU. He is responsible for the negotiation of key energy-related files that are part of the Fit for 55% legislative package designed to deliver on the EU carbon neutrality goals. He is seconded from the Department of Environment Climate and Communications, where he previously worked in Electricity and Gas Regulation .He led the Department’s state aid notification of the Irish Capacity Remuneration Mechanism. He has also led Irish negotiations on key elements of the market design regulation in the Clean Energy Package and previously represented Ireland at the electricity network codes and guidelines comitology negotiations. He coordinated the Department’s involvement in the regulator’s redesign of the Irish wholesale electricity market, which went live in October 2018. Before working on energy policy He was Private Secretary to the Minister for Communications and Energy. Prior to joining the civil service, Colm worked as a lecturer and researcher in history at Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway. He specialised in Early Modern Europe, Military Migration and the French Revolution. He has a Ph.D. in History from Trinity College Dublin.

Justin Moran, Director of External Affairs, Wind Energy Ireland

Justin Moran is the Director of External Affairs with Wind Energy Ireland. He leads the organisation’s communication and public affairs team working with external stakeholders to support the development of Ireland’s leading source of renewable energy.

Prior to joining Wind Energy Ireland he was the head of advocacy and communications with Age Action, Ireland’s main advocacy organisation for older people, for three years after having worked with EirGrid, the national transmission system operator on the Grid Link Project. He has also previously worked for Amnesty International and for Sinn Féin.

He holds a Degree in Journalism and a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Dublin City University.

Muireann Lynch, Research Officer, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)

Muireann Lynch is a Senior Research Officer in the Economic Analysis division of the Economic and Social Research Institute. She joined the Institute in 2014. Muireann holds a degree in Mathematics and Economics from Trinity College Dublin and a PhD from the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in UCD. She has published numerous research articles in diverse areas of energy economics and has co-authored submissions to various public consultations and Government Departments. Muireann’s research funders include Science Foundation Ireland, the Marine and Renewable Energy Institute (MaREI) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). In addition, Muireann coordinates emerging research focused on the modelling and integration of electricity, gas, heat and water systems in the Energy Systems Integration Partnership Programme. Muireann’s research interests include electricity market regulation, power system economics and renewable generation integration and her research methodologies include stochastic mathematical programming, optimisation and game theory.

Conall Bolger, CEO, Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA)

Conall Bolger is the CEO of the Irish Solar Energy Association. He has 16 years of markets and policy experience working across the energy value chain from community and behind the meter projects to larger scale onshore and offshore wind development. He founded, led, and developed Cornwall Insight’s Irish operations. His international renewables experience includes Poland, Canada, and the UK.

James O’Donnell, Assistant Professor, School of Mechanical & Material Engineering, University College Dublin (UCD)

James O’Donnell joined University College Dublin (UCD) in June 2013. Prior to this appointment, he worked as a senior Scientific Engineering Associate in the Building Technology and Urban Systems Department of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). His current work focuses on the development and deployment of interoperable and BIM based solutions to support multi-scale energy modelling, from individual buildings to national building stocks. It is in this capacity that he contributes to buildingSMART’s Building Energy Modelling IDM Expert Panel. In addition to technical research and consulting, James teaches modules focusing on building physics and building energy modelling. Previously, he taught courses at Stanford University, National University of Ireland Galway, and University College Cork on building performance analysis, building physics and HVAC analysis respectively. He also worked as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG). James has a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Ph.D. in holistic building performance analysis from University College Cork (UCC). He is also an editorial board member for the Elsevier journal Advanced Engineering Informatics.

Chris Collins, Country President Ireland, Schneider Electric

Chris leads Schneider Electric’s business in Ireland. He plays a vital role in directing the next phase of growth and strategy in the country. He began his career working in engineering and operations roles with field services teams in Siemens and TFC Automation. He joined Schneider Electric as a Business Development Manager in 2003 and was responsible for building automation and security products in the North East region of the US. Over the past seventeen years, he has held several roles, including senior board-level positions at Schneider Electric and is a seasoned business leader, having overseen Schneider’s smart buildings business, covering both the commercial and residential sectors in the US. Prior to taking on his current role in April 2021, he was Vice President of Systems Transformation, Digital Energy in the US.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Management Systems from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and an MBA, Business Administration, Management and Operations from Loyola University Maryland. Chris is a Director of the France Ireland Chamber of Commerce Council and sits on the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland Infrastructure Taskforce.

Connect with Chris on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Helen O’Sullivan, Co-founder & Operations Manager, Flex Power Solutions

With 20 years industry experience working in Continuous Improvement, Project Management and Technical Services Helen was inspired to set up Flex Power Solutions to focus on hybrid delivery of industrial steam through electrification.  Wind is Ireland’s best natural resource to help tackle the climate change emergency, yet we are at risk of losing huge amounts of this potential in the absence of mitigation measures.  One of these measures is high temperature power-to-heat technology provided by Flex Power Solutions.  Using PARAT electrode boilers alongside existing fossil fuel boilers excess renewable electricity is converted into useful heat in Irish industrial sites and district heating systems in times of high renewable generation.  By operating these boilers flexibly, sites achieve significant carbon reduction and lower costs.  Using this proven technology in new ways, we maximise the use of existing grid infrastructure to minimise dispatch down of wind turbines, while providing valuable zero carbon services to the System Operator.  With boilers from 0.5 to 60MW, Irish industrial sites can become like virtual interconnectors to stabilise the grid while allowing ever increasing renewable generation.  Helen is excited about delivering on the synergies that exist between the heat and power sectors in the decarbonised future.

Calin Tasnadi, Technical Group Lead, Heat Pump Association of Ireland

Calin Tasnadi moved to Ireland nearly twenty years ago and for more than a decade has been heavily involved in the Irish heating and renewables sector. A Building Services Engineering graduate of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, he has shown early interest in renewables and heat pump technology.

He is currently the Product and Compliance Manager for the HEVAC Group. Leading the Heat Pump Association of Ireland Technical Group, he was involved in and delivered the Heat Pumps Code of Practice – Installation Guidelines document, also he has been part of the NSAI TC31 SC6 committee that delivered a new Irish Standard S.R. 50-4:2021 – Heat pump systems in dwellings and NSAI TC40 committee S.R. 54-4:2014 – Retrofit of existing dwellings. He has been working closely with SEAI, DKIT, CIT and METAC on developing a heat pump training course for the Irish market. He is committed to continuously promoting renewables technology and creating a cleaner and safer environment for the future.

Kristian Ruby, Secretary General, Union of the Electricity Industry – Eurelectric

Kristian Ruby is a widely recognised expert with a strong communication profile and extensive experience in political affairs. He joined Eurelectric from Wind Europe, where he served as Chief Policy Officer and was in charge of development and implementation of the political strategy. Prior to this, Ruby worked as a journalist and served seven years as a public servant in the Danish Ministries of Environment, and Climate and Energy and in the European Commission in the cabinet of the former Climate Action chief, Connie Hedegaard. Kristian holds a master degree in history and international development.

Robert O’Rourke, Senior Manager, Electricity Networks, Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU)

Robert O’Rourke is the Electricity Networks Senior Manager at the Commission for Regulation of Utilities and is responsible for the economic regulation of the transmission and distribution network companies, and the integration of renewables onto the Irish system. This includes the System Services Future Arrangements project and the CRU’s PR5 Decision which set the regulatory framework for EirGrid and ESB Networks for the next five-year period (2021-2025), and set out ambitious targets and flexible investment mechanisms needed to achieve the transition to a low-carbon system by 2030.

Alex Blanckley, Principal, AFRY Management Consulting

Alex is a Principal in AFRY Management Consulting’s energy practice. His primary focus is on the Irish and GB power markets and specifically on the challenges of integrating intermittent renewables into the power system. Most recently, this has included several projects related to energy storage and system stability.

Elaine O’Connell, Policy Officer, Directorate General for Energy, Internal Energy Market Unit, European Commission

Elaine O’Connell works at DG Energy in the Internal Energy Market unit. Having worked on the Clean Energy Package negotiations, she is now focused on the implementation of the Electricity Regulation and Network Codes and Guidelines as well as DG Energy’s Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy. She previously worked at the UK Dept for Energy & Climate Change on energy security, market design and monitoring. Before that, she has been based in Brussels and Warsaw working on energy and sustainability issues for a large US multinational and in Cork, Ireland working for a software startup. Elaine has a Masters in Sustainable Development and a Degree in European Studies and German from University College Cork.

Edwina Nyhan, Director of Strategy and Regulation, Gas Networks Ireland

Edwina Nyhan is the Director of Strategy and Regulation at Gas Networks Ireland, the semi-state organisation that operates and maintains Ireland’s €2.7bn, 14,617km national gas network and ensures the safe and reliable delivery of gas to more than 710,000 Irish homes and businesses. Edwina is responsible defining Gas Networks Ireland’s strategy, sustainability focus, regulatory affairs team and stakeholder and policy environment. Edwina has extensive experience in the energy industry, is a Fellow of the institute of Chartered Accountants Ireland and is the executive sponsor of Gas Networks Ireland’s Diversity and Inclusion Programme. Prior to being appointed to her current role, Edwina held a number of senior positions including Head of Finance Operations in Ervia and Head of Finance in Gas Networks Ireland.

David Carroll, Head of Innovation & Research, EirGrid Group

David Carroll is Head of Innovation & Research for EirGrid Group. EirGrid Group is the electricity transmission system operator for Ireland and Northern Ireland and also operates the all island electricity market. David has 15 years’ experience in the electricity industry across grid development, system and market operations, regulation and more recently in innovation and planning. David’s day to day role involves leading a team in relation to techno economic modelling of the power system, capacity market modelling to ensure the correct type and volume capacity is procured to meet our future needs and also in leading on his organisations innovation and research strategy.