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Plans unveiled to make Wales a world leader for clean energy

03 December 2007

Partners in the new all-Wales Low Carbon Research Institute have revealed details of their plans to make the nation an international showcase for sustainable energy use.

The Welsh Assembly Government has just announced £5.1M in funding for the Institute, which will co-ordinate research on clean energy technologies and how they can be put into practice.

The Institute is to be led by Cardiff University’s Welsh School of Architecture, which has a worldwide reputation in the design of low energy buildings. The other research partners are Cardiff’s School of Engineering, Bangor University School of Chemistry, Swansea School of Engineering and Glamorgan University’s Sustainable Environment Research Centre.

The Institute will have four main themes:

• Low carbon energy generation, storage and distribution. Areas of research will include large-scale offshore wind and tidal power generation, biomass microgeneration sites, better harnessing of solar energy through more efficient photovoltaic electricity technology, use of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies in generation and transport, and more sustainable coal and gas-powered energy.
• Energy demand reduction. This will include research into greater energy efficiency in buildings, including improved heating, cooling, ventilating and lighting. There will be also research into energy controls for industry, greater use of waste heat and reducing carbon emissions from the water, waste and sewage systems. The Institute will also consider how the Welsh Assembly Government can achieve its aim of zero carbon building by 2011.
• An Energy Graduate School. This will offer Masters, CPD and PhD courses on energy to create a highly skilled workforce familiar with sustainability issues. The School will work with industry on meeting its training needs and involve it in the delivery of courses.
• Partnerships with industry, research organisations and Government. A key priority will for the Institute will be translating research into practice. Links will be established with industry and central and local Government to achieve this. The possibility of creating new energy industries for Wales, such as large and small-scale renewables and smart metering, will be explored. The Institute will also provide independent advice to the Welsh Assembly Government on delivery of its Energy Policy.

The funding for the Institute is provided by the Welsh Assembly Government through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales’ Reconfiguration and Collaboration Fund, which supports higher education institutions in joining together to achieve world class research. The Institute will also seek European, UK government and industry funding to support a research agenda which stretches decades into the future.

The five university partners will also be looking to establish collaborative programmes with other research groups in the UK and overseas. A number of interdisciplinary research projects are already under way in Wales and the Institute will be looking to building on the world-leading energy research capacity and facilities already developed here.

Professor Phil Jones, Head of the Welsh School of Architecture said: "Energy demand and supply is vital to Wales’ future, and the nation has great potential to exploit a range of low carbon technologies. Our aim is that the Low Carbon Research Institute will be recognised internationally as an interdisciplinary centre promoting excellence in research and attracting leaders in the field to Wales. More importantly, the Institute will seek to achieve more affordable low carbon energy costs, improve energy efficiency from different sources, reduce energy demand across all sectors, make Wales less dependent on imported fuels and reduce climate change."


Notes to Editors:

The Welsh School of Architecture’s primary research aim relates to the effective and sustainable design, construction and operation of the built environment of which energy is a critical component. The Institute will enable the School to further build its research capacity in the energy field to form partnerships to bid for interdisciplinary research projects at national and international level.

Cardiff School of Engineering’s research interests and expertise in energy encompasses renewable and traditional forms of power generation, distribution, efficiency and environmental impact. The Institute will help the School achieve its 5-year plan of a significant expansion in academic staff in the field of energy, and continue to develop formal partnerships and collaborations with the energy industry.

At Bangor University the Institute will enable a Centre for Solar Energy Research to be established, which will provide a world class focus for work in this field. This will encourage research groups in chemistry, physics, materials and electronic engineering to participate in photovoltaic research.

The Institute will enable the employment of additional lecturing staff at the University of Glamorgan, allowing it to increase the volume and quality of teaching and research delivered within the Sustainable Energy Research Centre (SERC). This will strengthen links within the energy research sector both nationally and internationally and provide access to a wider portfolio of research opportunities.

Swansea University’s School of Engineering energy-related research is of increasing importance and the Institute will provide extra research capacity and partners. Marine renewable energy is identified as a high research priority area, with significant interest internationally now being shown in the work at Swansea.

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a memberof the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities.
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Further Information:

For more information, please contact:

Stephen Rouse,
Public Relations Office,
Cardiff University.
029 2087 5596