Team from DIT wins ESB Inter Colleges Challenge for 2018

Four students propose renewable energy solution for the agricultural sector

Following an intense two-day challenge, four students from the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) have claimed the ESB Inter Colleges Challenge for 2018.

They had to research, design and develop a customer proposition to enable widespread adoption of low-carbon technologies and services for “citizens of the future”.

The DIT team, Brian King, Lee Gibbons, William Tunstead and Cathal Kinirons, will represent Ireland at an international engineering and commerce competition next year in Montreal, Canada.

For their winning concept, the team focused on a renewable energy solution for the agricultural sector based on a combination of solar panels, biomass and smart energy IT applications. Their idea included placing Solar PV on large farm buildings; converting farm waste such as slurry into biomass fuels and using smart technologies to optimise use of that energy mix.


A total of 44 students from 11 colleges and universities competed in the competition at the Irish Management Institute in Dublin. It offers engineering and finance students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to develop innovative, creative and commercial solutions to societal energy challenges.

Research and design

Teams were allocated eight hours to research and design a solution to the task, after which they pitched their idea to an expert panel of judges.

“We believe in providing platforms like the Inter Colleges Challenge to allow students the opportunity and environment to create real-life solutions for tomorrow’s generation, and in particular to the defining challenges posted by climate change,” said ESB chief executive Pat O’Doherty at the prize-giving ceremony.

He paid tribute to “ a rich pool of innovators and critical thinkers who understand and want to build customer solutions that will create a brighter future for all”.

The judges commended the winning team on their ability to create an innovative and attractive concept within such a pressured and short time. Queen's University Belfast and Trinity College claimed the second and third spots respectively – their team members will receive a summer placement with ESB.

Minister of State at the Department of Education with special responsibility for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “This is a wonderful competition which lets participants apply their individual skills as part of a team to address real-world issues. It develops graduates’ capacity to think critically and communicate effectively.”

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times