TU Dublin awarded €1m in Performance Funding in recognition of decarbonisation initiative

Published: 25 Sep, 2023

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has announced that €5.5 million in funding has been awarded to five higher education institutions in recognition of their outstanding contribution to national strategic priorities and policies.

One million Euro in Performance Funding has been awarded to Technological University Dublin in recognition of the University’s major decarbonisation initiative.

Speaking at the launch event on 25 September, Minister Harris said: “Today, we are recognising the exceptional performance of the higher education and research system", adding that: “It is clear that our higher education institutions are having an impact across society.”

Minister Harris described the work of TU Dublin in developing renewable energy solutions as “exemplary”.

Technological University Dublin worked with public and private partners to launch a major decarbonising initiative enabling the development of a district heating network in its Tallaght campus and a deep-bore geothermal heating system in the Grangegorman campus. The initiative aims to generate a minimum of 70% renewable heating on site by 2030.

TU Dublin is progressing on action to deliver our climate and sustainability objectives. Like all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), TU Dublin is uniquely positioned to undertake this work in a way that inspires passion and motivation in our people through engaged education and in creating new knowledge through research and innovation. Given the scale of transformational change required to achieve these objectives, the public sector and HEIs have a leading role to play. University campuses offer the opportunity to deliver this through best practice and leading by example – we must prioritise the urgent over the important, by investing now in the infrastructure for a sustainable future across 2030, 2040, and 2050 time-horizons.

Over the last three years, TU Dublin has committed resources, through our people and utilising the campuses we own and operate, to invest in innovative solutions that combine technologies of district heating infrastructure underneath our campus landscapes and buildings and the prospects of deep and shallow bore geothermal renewable heating. The University has done this in close partnership with many organisations including Geological Survey Ireland, the Grangegorman Development Agency, Codema, Heatworks and our local authorities.

These projects form part of a wider portfolio of solutions that address the wider risks of achieving our climate actions targets. This approach minimises the Universities need to soley rely on the greening of our national electricity grid or for the roll out of mass-market large-scale renewable energy solutions.

TU Dublin’s geothermal and district heating innovations provide an opportunity for public and private sector organisations to learn from our approach to, and access the findings from, our sustainable energy solutions. With the potential to be replicated across other public sector locations, these energy research projects compliment the targets and indicators for United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, and SDG 9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure. We welcome the potential to connect with our neighbouring public institutions and communities in time. 

Commenting on TU Dublin being awarded the Performance Funding, Vice President for Sustainability, Jennifer Boyer said:

We are delighted to receive a portion of this year’s Performance Funding on the back of the work that we are doing to decarbonise our campus and welcome the Higher Education Authority's (HEA) launch of the new Systems Performance dashboard which offers us an opportunity to respond in real time, and provide transparent reporting on our collective progress to engaging all areas of society in the interests of protecting our planet for generations to come.

Jennifer added, “In order for our society to transition to a sustainable energy system, these projects are critical. They also raise big questions and require new mindsets within our campus and capital development teams, local authorities, and local citizens. These projects call out the need for new investment and ownership models and dedicated focus on achieving these medium- and long-term targets to realise benefits for all."

Launch of Performance Funding with representatives from five higher education institutions pictured with Minister Simon Harris including TU Dublin Vice President for Sustainability

The performance funding awards were based on an evaluation of Impact Assessment Case Studies submitted by higher education institutions (HEIs) to the HEA in May 2023. HEIs were invited to showcase a significant contribution made towards national strategic priorities and policies. The submissions were assessed by an independent panel of expert assessors.

Commenting on the successful initiatives, CEO of the HEA, Dr Alan Wall, said: “These awards highlight the vital role of the higher education sector in contributing to delivery of national strategy and policy. I am particularly pleased to see the range of partnerships formed with communities and organisations in areas including sustainability, access and participation, and community and campus engagement.  The success of these initiatives demonstrates the impact of our institutions in society.”

Performance Funding was first introduced under the 2018-2020 System Performance Framework to support and recognise positive performance in the system. The funding can be used to expand and progress existing initiatives or put towards new initiatives that contribute towards national strategic imperatives. Oversight of the funding awarded will be managed by the HEA.