As she reaches the end of her ATBEST fellowship, Experienced Researcher Dr Laura Gil Carrera from Gas Networks Ireland reflects on her experiences in the project.
On the 3rd of November 2015 another ATBEST meeting took place in Belfast, however this one was different for me; it was my last meeting with a great group of people. I still remember the first meeting two years ago when I walked into the Council Chamber in Queen’s University, which was filled with incredibly qualified individuals from around the world. We all presented our projects in that room crowded with strangers at that time, who became friends along the way. From the very first day with ATBEST, everyone welcomed all fellows as members of the team and genuinely expected us to make a contribution.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working on the project “Developing strategies to facilitate the integration of biogas into the existing gas network”, in another words investigating the optimal model for rolling out a biomethane industry in Ireland. I hit the ground running, working on data collection and evaluation of concepts and literature to get a good flavour of the biogas industry in Ireland.
My first year was full of work on Irish ground, from literature reviews, several workshops all over the country, meetings with biogas producers, potential producers, academics, and politicians in order to develop strategies that suit the Irish context for biogas utilization. Besides biogas, I got an insight into the natural gas business and energy markets, which is essential for the future integration of renewable gas into the energy system in Ireland.
This year has been extremely challenging and exciting, trying to manage numerous field trips and getting my analysis and models done before November. During 2015 I had the opportunity to attend a few conferences across Europe and present my work at them. Feedbacks and engagement at Green Gas Research Outlook, REGATEC and Progress in Biomethane Mobility were very fruitful to achieve successful outcomes in my project. I also got the great chance to collaborate with Scandinavian Biogas, QUB and UDE through secondments which broad my knowledge and gave me hands on experience, not only within my field of expertise but also in the anaerobic digestion itself, operation of biogas plants, upgrading plants, biomethane logistics and application of biogas in liquid fuel production.
Both the tight collaboration with our ATBEST partners and the intensive exchange with peer experts from all over Europe helped me to get a better technical and economic understanding and develop models incorporating novel innovative technologies and novel biogas substrates to grow the Irish biogas industry.
But the work—meaningful as it was—was only a small part of what made my experience so special. Everyone I met, from ATBEST fellows, project coordinators, GNI colleagues, associate partners… helped me grow both as an employee and a person.
I just want to thank all ATBEST community!!Thanks for two great years!! See you soon!