Business Secretary and First Minister kick-start 'Buildings As Power Stations' pilot production line

Business Secretary Vince Cable and Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones today opened a new pilot manufacturing facility which will put Wales at the forefront of global renewable energy technology.

First Minister and Vince Cable kick start SPECIFIC

By starting up a pilot production line at Baglan Energy Park, near Port Talbot, they also put the UK on the threshold of a £1 billion pound new industry which will revolutionise building construction and make a major contribution to renewable energy targets.

Enormous environmental benefits also underscore the Baglan project, which could reduce the UK’s CO2 output by millions of tonnes a year. The technology focuses on new products which will turn buildings into power stations.

View the launch photos on Flickr

The pilot production unit at SPECIFIC, the Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC), led by Swansea University, will develop functional coated steel and glass products to incorporate into existing and new buildings, enabling walls and roofs to generate, store and release energy.

This ease of use will help address a widely-predicted global shortage of energy supply, providing building owners and occupiers with a reliable energy source at point of use (...continued below)

Mr Cable said: “The Government’s £10million backing of the SPECIFIC project shows what can be achieved when world class university research comes together with the private sector.                   

“This centre will speed up the commercialisation of innovative industrial coatings, creating a whole new manufacturing sector and new business opportunities, not to mention long-term environmental benefits, including turning buildings into sources of power.

 “We are committed to investing in high value, high tech sectors where the UK can gain a competitive advantage and promote economic growth.”

View the launch photos on Flickr

The £20m, five-year project at SPECIFIC, one of six IKCs in the UK, is backed by £10m funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Technology Strategy Board. A further £2m funding from the Welsh Government recognises the IKC’s strategic nature and potential economic impact, giving it added impetus.

The IKC represents a powerful fusion of academic and industrial expertise. In addition to Swansea University, it is a partnership of University groups including Imperial College, Bangor, Cardiff, Glyndwr, Bath and Sheffield and multi-nationals such as Tata Steel, BASF, and NSG Pilkington. Its open innovation approach relies on engineers, scientists and business people working together under one roof to develop and test potential world class technology.

The IKC complements Swansea University’s major campus development programme since the University is already a model for open innovation and knowledge transfer through collaboration between academia, industry, research and students. Its development over 10 years will have a huge economic impact establishing the region as a vibrant location for high tech companies.

Kevin Bygate, chief executive of SPECIFIC said “What we are achieving at the Baglan Bay Innovation and Knowledge Centre is of global significance. It has the potential to create a range of renewable energy applications which will be available commercially within a few years.

“The funding secured to date and the unique collaboration between government, academia and industry has enabled us to make rapid progress within a relatively short timescale. We are delighted to be launching this pilot manufacturing facility today which will pave the way for rapid commercialisation and the creation of a major UK industry.”

The First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “SPECIFIC is an invaluable asset to Wales and helps to cement our reputation as a country with high skills and the ability to make clean, green high value products of a global standard. The facilities, expertise and the science demonstrated here is amongst the best.

“The Welsh Government will continue to work closely with our Universities and industry to create the research, capacity and jobs to prepare our economy for the future.”