1 March 2016

£26 million five-year investment announced for SPECIFIC Innovation & Knowledge Centre

The SPECIFIC Management Team at the launch event at the IET in London

A £26 million EU-backed investment to drive forward the solar energy industry has been announced by Welsh Government Finance Minister, Jane Hutt.

The funding, made up of £15 million of EU funds, £4 million from the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) and Innovate UK, and £7 million investment from Swansea and Cardiff Universities, coupled with crucial investment from industry partners, will support a new phase of research and commercialisation of technology being developed at Port Talbot-based SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre. 

The investment will help SPECIFIC to progress the commercialisation of technologies to transform ‘buildings into power stations’ by enabling them to generate, store and release their own solar energy.

The five-year initiative will support SPECIFIC’s innovative ambitions for the commercialisation of research within the renewable energy sector through demonstration of integrated technologies in buildings across residential and commercial sectors.

Announcing the EU funding at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London last night, Finance Minister Jane Hutt said: “EU investments such as these are vital in providing opportunities for academic and industrial collaborations in high-growth sectors such as energy, where Wales has great potential to deliver.

“This initiative embodies the Welsh Government’s goals, not only for a low-carbon economy, but also for greater collaboration between Governments, Universities and businesses to commercialise ground-breaking research, and in turn, drive high quality, sustainable jobs and growth across Wales.” 

Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of EPSRC, added: “One of the UK’s challenges is to provide a resilient, sustainable and secure energy supply. The SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre bridges the gap between great science and research in the lab and teams it with industrial development and commercialisation for the benefit of the UK economy.”

SPECIFIC is a research led and industry inspired innovation centre delivered by Swansea University with Tata Steel, BASF, NSG Pilkington and Cardiff University, and brings together more than 50 partners from academia and industry.

Set up in 2011, SPECIFIC combines world-class technical knowledge with unique manufacturing facilities, and has developed a range of products that can be integrated into buildings creating a single, innovative energy system.

Kevin Bygate, CEO of SPECIFIC said: “By combining affordable solar generation, storage and release technologies into an integrated system we’re offering a realistic low-risk, low-cost solution to our energy challenges. At scale, the ‘buildings as power stations’ concept could deliver a significant reduction in gas heating, a reduction in the stress on the electrical grid at peak times, and a cheap, renewable source of energy for building owners and occupiers.”

Dr Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive of Innovate UK added: “SPECIFICs work in demonstrating the concept of buildings as power stations over the last five years is excellent. Innovate UK looks forward to seeing their partners in the construction industry deliver on the planned scale up of demonstrators over the next five years. This will accelerate the commercialisation of their technologies in Wales and in the rest of the UK.”


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