Swansea University’s ‘buildings as power stations’ project backed by UK government funding

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, during a visit to the Swansea Bay Campus, announced a £800,000 UK Government backed investment in Swansea University’s SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre.

SPECIFIC Innovation fund group

The funding, delivered by Innovate UK, will be used to construct the UK’s first energy positive Active Office, capable of generating more energy than it uses.

The building will be manufactured using cutting edge off-site manufacturing techniques and incorporate cutting edge, innovative energy harvest, storage and release technologies. The building will be completed by April 2018 and will be occupied immediately by up to 40 members of staff.

 

SPECIFIC Innovation fund batteries

SPECIFIC is led by Swansea University and works with more than 50 partners from academia, industry and government to deliver its vision for buildings as power stations thatgenerate, store and release solarenergy.

 

 

 

The Active Office will be linked to the Active Classroom – an existing space which provides teaching space and a laboratory for Swansea University students, as well as a building-scale development facility for SPECIFIC and its industry partners.

SPECIFIC Innovation fund cladding Active Office key features:

  • A unique combination of technologies for the generation, storage and release of solar energy – both heat and electricity
  • Connected – it will be able to share solar energy with the Active Classroom, demonstrating how the ‘buildings as power stations’ concept could help to support energy resilient communities
  • Occupied – it will be used as an office for up to 40 people, enabling the concept to be tested and validated with a genuine energy profile
  • Uses off-site construction methods, assembled on site
  • Repeatable design

 

Professor Richard Davies, Vice Chancellor of Swansea University, said:

“It is exciting to see SPECIFIC’s innovative ‘buildings as power stations’ concept becoming a practical reality.  The Active Office at our magnificent Bay Campus follows closely on the heels of the ground-breaking Active Classroom.  As well as demonstrating what is now possible off the grid, the new building will share energy with the Active Classroom, showing how buildings can work together to create energy resilient communities.”

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:

“The UK Government is committed to leading the world in delivering clean energy technology and today’s investment shows that we are prepared to support innovation in this critical area.

“Research and innovation has a proven track record of helping drive our economy. Swansea University is making a huge contribution in this area, making great strides in science and research which is receiving plaudits all over the world. I look forward to seeing this new investment come to life and hope it will provide another boost to the ground-breaking research being taken forward by the University.

Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive of Innovate UK, said:

“Building the UK’s first office that creates more power than it uses is a significant step, and I’m proud that it is Innovate UK funding that is making it happen. The Active Office heralds the future for building design and is a testimony to the fantastic work being done at Swansea University by the SPECIFIC team.  This flagship demonstration of the ‘buildings as power stations’ concept will draw visitors from around the world and give us a glimpse of the future.”

SPECIFIC IKC was set up in 2011 with 5-year grant commitments from EPSRC, Innovate UK and Welsh Government, with phase II commitment in April 2016 from EPSRC, Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. There has been further investment across both phases from Swansea University, strategic industrial partners (Akzo Nobel, NSG Pilkington and Tata Steel) and additional support from Cardiff University. IKC Specific has generated more than £40m of funding for allied R&D projects such as Sêr Solar and Swansea University’s Materials and Manufacturing Academy. The centre has developed research links with a number of other universities working in complementary research areas.

For more information about SPECIFIC go to web page www.specific.eu.com  and twitter @info_specific

Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs) were co-funded by the Engineering Physical Research Council (EPSRC) and Innovate UK as a key component of the UK's approach to the commercialisation of emerging technologies through creating early stage critical mass in an area of disruptive technology. They are able to achieve this through their international quality research capability and access to companion technologies needed to commercialise research.

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Innovate UK drives productivity and growth by supporting businesses to realise the potential of new technologies, develop ideas and make them a commercial success.

Picture 1: Outside the Active Classroom. (left to right) Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, Kevin Bygate CEO SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Professor David Worsley Deputy Head and Director of Research College of Engineering Swansea University, Vice Chancellor of Swansea University Professor Richard B Davies, Simon Edmonds Director – Manufacturing & Materials, Innovate UK and Dr Jon Wood Manager for Wales Innovate UK.   

Picture 2: Inside the Active Classroom looking at the batteries. (left to right)Vice Chancellor of Swansea University Professor Richard B Davies, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, Kevin Bygate CEO SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Professor David Worsley Deputy Head and Director of Research College of Engineering Swansea University,

Picture 3: Outside the Active Classroom looking at the cladding (left to right) Vice Chancellor of Swansea University Professor Richard B Davies, Simon Edmonds Director – Manufacturing & Materials, Innovate UK , Professor David Worsley Deputy Head and Director of Research College of Engineering Swansea University, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns and Kevin Bygate CEO SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre.