Dr Eoin Syron
What attracted you to work with the Energy Institute?
The opportunity to work as part a world classteam to help bring about a change in the global energy sector. As an individual researcher it is impossible to understand all the factors and intricacies that impact the integrated energy system, but as part of the Energy Institute I can help create a better understanding of how the system works. It also give me an opportunity to help decision makers put in place good policies by providing them with scientifically sound answers to their questions.
What research questions interest you most right now?
For me the big research question, is how can we continue to live in this world, with an increasing population where everyone has a decent quality of life. To achieve this goal requires a change in the way society manages our limited resources. As can be seen from history, change comes about in increments, so to bring about this society change I am focusing my research on how to make start making an impact quickly by
- Utilising existing infrastructure to help reduce our carbon footprint
- Developing and improving the efficiencies of existing technologies.
- Using carbon neutral fuels to allow further decarbonisation
How do you see Gas Research growing and developing in the Institute?
I see Gas Research playing a key role in the Energy Institute especially in the areas of energy storage and transport. Gas can be stored for long periods in tanks or in natural underground caverns, allowing for the possibility of long term storage of renewable energy. Additionally gas can be transported around the globe in LNG ships allowing for renewable energy to be a globally traded commodity unlike electricity which is limited by the need for expensive infrastructure. The increased use of gas allows for more flexibility.
Will gas play a significant role as we make the transition to a lower carbon energy system?
Gas is the transition fuel from our current fossil intensive based energy systems to a net zero carbon emission system. Natural Gas has the lowest CO2 emissions of all the fossil fuels so just by switching to gas fired power station and gas powered vehicles we are already transitioning to lower carbon energy system. Gas end-use technologies have been around for a long time and are well understood, so we are not waiting for a technological breakthrough to be able to lower CO2 emissions.
The bigger challenge is “net-zero” emissions by 2050, can gas (natural/renewable) be part of the energy-mix?
While Natural Gas can play a part of the “Net-Zero” emissions if the produced CO2 is captured and stored in geological formations, the production of renewable gas is key to having zero carbon emission. Since Natural Gas and Renewable Gas are chemically identical, the methods of handling and using the gas are the same. To the end user it’s all gas, similar to the way there is no difference between an electron from a coal plant or a wind turbine. So by transitioning through natural gas to renewable gas we achieve zero emissions without radical change.
What advice would you give to secondary school students who are considering engineering as a third level option?
Studying Engineering allows students to develop their critical thinking and problem solving skill which are valuable in all walks of life. I would advise students to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, as there are some really cool things to learn about and what engineering gives students is the opportunity to use what they have learned to develop new ideas and concepts.