Smart Grid Ireland 2024 Innovation Conference Speakers

Dr. Jennifer Carroll MacNeill - Minster of state for European Affairs & Defence

Appointed by the Taoiseach to this role in April 2024, Dr. Carroll MacNeill previously served as Minister of State in the Department for Finance with special responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance.

Minister Carroll MacNeill was elected as a TD for the Dún Laoghaire constituency in the 2020 General Election. She served on a number of Oireachtas Committees including the Public Accounts Committee, the Justice Committee and the Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. She was also a member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly.

Before entering elected politics, Minister Carroll MacNeill qualified as a Solicitor and Barrister.  She holds a PhD in public policy where her research interest was in political institutions and the judiciary.

Minister Carroll MacNeill has worked as a lawyer in the public service, both within the Oireachtas as Legal Adviser in the Office of the Leader of Fine Gael and within Government as Special Adviser in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, in the Department of Justice and Equality & in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.


Admir Shala - DH Development Manager - NexSys and UCD Energy Institute

His role is to lead the newly-established not-for-profit Heat Works energy utility, which is owned by South Dublin County Council. In addition, he is responsible for day-to-day management of duties and tasks for Heat Works to provide thermal energy for public or private buildings in South Dublin. Admir brings a unique combination of skills encompassing technical and engineering expertise and business acumen in the area of energy efficiency measures, with the focus on district heating, a concept of which is relatively new to Ireland.

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Andrew Keane - Director - NexSys and UCD Energy Institute


Bob Barbour - CEO - Centre for Competitiveness

Bob Barbour

Brendan Kelly - Head of Commercial - Bord na Móna Renewable Energy

Brendan is the Head of Commercial at Bord Na Móna Renewable Energy and is responsible for developing commercial strategies and full commercialisation of Bord No Móna’s 2GW+ development pipeline. He is also leading the diversification strategy for the company specifically in the areas of Offshore Wind, Green Hydrogen, Power to X, and Flextech.

Brendan has over 13 years’ experience in the Utility and Energy sector. Prior to joining Bord Na Móna, Brendan held several senior management positions with Smart Wires, an Energy Technology company, based out of the Bay Area in California. At Smart Wires, Brendan was responsible for development of the EMEA business and subsequently led the company’s business expansion into the Canadian market. Brendan also previously held senior engineering roles at EirGrid, the Irish TSO, most notably leading the design of Grid Connections for over 2GW of wind generators and the initial tranche of Data Centres to the to the Irish system.

Brendan has an Electrical Engineering background having received his Bachelors and Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from University College Dublin.


Conall Bolger - CEO - Irish Solar Energy Association

Conall Bolger is the CEO of the Irish Solar Energy Association. He has nearly two decades of markets and policy experience working across the energy value chain from community and customer site 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.


David Rimmer - Microgrid Business Leader - Schneider Electric

David Rimmer

Deirdre de Bhailís - General Manager - Dingle Hub

Deirdre is an experienced social enterprise and community leader with a comprehensive knowledge of strategic and operational development. Skilled in multi-stakeholder and community engagement, she drives multiple projects which address the community’s transition to a low carbon society.  These include the development of sustainable mobility initiatives and the investigation of anaerobic digestion solutions to address climate change.

Deirdre holds a degree in Electronic Engineering from NUIG and a Masters in Engineering Science from UCC.

Deirdre De Bhailis

Diana Vaz - Renewable Research Technologist -

Diana has a strong mix of experience in applied research and consultancy in the area of renewable energy engineering and sustainability. In IMR she applies that experience on guiding companies on their path to decarbonization. Diana holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, with specialisation in Energy and Environment, and a postgraduate diploma in Circular Economy.

Photo Diana Vaz

Professor Dirk Van Hertem - KU Leuven


Gerrit Jan Schaeffer - General Manager - EnergyVille

Dr. ir. Gerrit Jan Schaeffer (1966) got his education in Business Studies, Applied Physics  and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Twente in The Netherlands. After a career at the Energy research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) as a scientist and research manager he moved to the Flemish Institute for Technology Research (VITO) as Director Energy. In 2016 he became an entrepreneur as CEO at Dutch Solar Energy in the Netherlands. Since 1 June 2021 he got the position as General Manager of EnergyVille, the main sustainable energy research institute in Flanders, Belgium.

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Marcos Byrne - Policy Manager - Wind Energy Ireland

Marcos Byrne is a Policy Manager with focus on Grids and Markets at Wind Energy Ireland. His current role with Wind Energy Ireland sees him working on policy development in markets and grids, working towards a net zero energy system for Ireland. Marcos comes from a background in innovative grid technologies with SuperNode where he worked on Markets Analysis and future market trends, product development for innovative superconducting cable solutions, and working towards policy changes for the future energy system. He also has experience developing renewable energy projects with Mainstream Renewable Power, where he gained experience in onshore wind, offshore wind, and solar. Marcos also worked developing a future 2050 energy model for Europe and forecasting future global electricity demand.


Mark McGranaghan - EPRI Fellow - EPRI Europe

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Mark Mc

Marta Val Escudero - Future Operations Technical Lead - EirGrid

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Peter Glover - Future Networks Manager - NIE Networks

Peter Glover is currently the Future Networks Manager at NIE Networks. In this role, Peter leads a team of engineers responsible for implementing Innovation Projects. These projects involve integrating new technologies and techniques into the Business as Usual (BaU) operations in Northern Ireland.

With over 20 years of experience in the Utility and Energy sector, Peter brings a wealth of knowledge to his current position. Prior to joining NIE, he served as the Applications Engineering Manager at Qualitrol. In that role, he specialised in substation and asset monitoring technology, including Fault Recorders, Fault Locators, PMUs (Phasor Measurement Units), and Power Quality Monitors. During this role, he travelled extensively, working in substations on six continents.


Philip Cheasty - National Contact Point (NCP) for Horizon Europe Cluster 5 - Enterprise Ireland

Based in Enterprise Ireland, Philip is the National Contact Point Point (NCP) for Horizon Europe Cluster 5 - Energy, NCP for the Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission, NCP for Nuclear Fission and Fusion Energy and National Representative for the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. Philip has extensive experience in European Framework Programmes and previously had responsibilities for FP7 (NMPB) and Horizon2020 (Energy).


Ruth Buggie - Head of Mobility and Smart Networks - SEAI

Ruth Buggie is the Head of Mobility and Smart Networks in the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland with responsibility for establishing a range of activities to support the emerging smart networks workstreams supporting the objectives and requirements of Climate Action Plans, EU directives, and other policy, regulatory and legal requirements as well as leading the delivery of high-volume grant programmes across EVs, home and apartment chargers.


Sorcha Schnittger - Innovation Manager - SSE Energy Solutions

Sorcha is currently the Innovation Manager for SSE Energy Customer Solutions, covering the Irish and GB markets. An engineer with over 14 years of experience in Innovation across Generation, CCS, Transmission and Distribution, Sorcha’s current focus is on developing innovation projects to support customers’ pathways to Net Zero.

Sorcha holds a BEng Mechanical Engineering and an MSc Carbon Capture and Storage.


Steve Heinen - Director - EY Digital Grid

Steve is a Director in EY’s Global Digital Grids division, with a dedicated mission to assist power grid companies worldwide in their transition to net-zero electricity systems. Steve was project delivery lead of the ‘Grids for Speed’ study developed for Eurelectric.

Prior to this role, he held the position of Future Networks and Planning Manager at Vector, New Zealand's largest electricity distribution company. There, he led a team responsible for network reinforcement, enhancing flexibility, conducting network simulations, and managing large-scale customer connections. Steve also directly contributed to innovative project such as the Smart EV charging trial, smart hot water trial and the pioneering collaboration with X (prev. Google X) on cutting-edge network virtualization and simulation technologies.

His expertise also extends to his tenure at the International Energy Agency (IEA), where he focused on smart grids and flexible electricity systems.

Steve holds a PhD in power system engineering from University College Dublin (UCD), a Master’s degree in economics from Paris-Dauphine University and a MSc from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ). As a Senior Member of the IEEE, Steve has been recognized for his contributions to the field and was honoured as a WEC Future Energy Leader from 2020 to 2023.

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Teresa Fallon - Distribution Management System Operation (DMSO) Design Manager - ESB Networks


Yvonne Murphy - CEO - Irish District Energy Association

Yvonne Murphy