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Geo-energy technologies boost

18 January 2013

Welsh Government Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, has announced a £1M EU boost for a project to further develop groundbreaking geo-energy technologies and pioneer research in a bid to cut fuel costs and greenhouse emissions.

Led by the University's Geoenvironmental Research Centre (GRC), the £10M SEREN project is already backed with £4.5M from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

The new funding will enable the project to continue its work to help businesses commercialise their innovative ideas to develop new products, services and technologies for the low carbon economy. It will also undertake research into the development of technologies to harness ground source heat, underground coal gasification and carbon storage.

As well as the additional funding the Deputy Minister also unveiled new laboratory equipment which will help research into how rocks and other materials underground absorb and release gas. The equipment will also measure the pressures, temperatures and depths needed to optimise processes such as carbon storage and coal gasification.

Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, said: "I am delighted that through our successful management of EU funds we are able to invest in activities that will pioneer research and innovation.

"Looking ahead we are determined to ensure we maximise the impact of any future EU funding Wales receives and, this week, I launched a formal public consultation to seek views from people across Wales on our priorities for EU investments in the next funding round during 2014-2020.

"There remains considerable uncertainty over the amount of future funding we are likely to receive in Wales. Across Europe – and within the UK – there remain differences of opinion, particularly the size of the EU budget and the fairness of the arrangements for distributing this between Member States.

"I have been pressing the case for Wales to reinforce the message that priority needs to be given to the less developed regions of the EU, including regions in richer member states, like West Wales and the Valleys.

"I am determined to negotiate a fair deal for our region, so our specific needs are recognised by the UK in its EU budget negotiations for 2014-2020 so that we can continue to drive forward our ambitious goals."

To date, the SEREN project has assisted 30 enterprises, providing support to help them develop their ideas, products and processes. Two new businesses have also been created through the project - WDS Green Energy Ltd and Atebglas Daioni Cyf.

Recently, WDS Green Energy has been involved in a field experiment in collaboration with SEREN, researching the thermal behaviour of the ground. The experiment, aimed at improving ground source heating systems, will provide valuable information on how best to design and install such systems in the future.

Dr Aleksandra Koj of Seren's Project Delivery team said, "We are delighted and very grateful to receive this boost to our funding and look forward to continuing to work with our partners here in Wales on the delivery of this very exciting, topical and innovative project".