Wales Ireland Solar Energy Initiative launched

Academics from Swansea University’s Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) have played a major role in developing and launching a £1.45m (€1.8m) initiative to develop the Solar Energy Sector in Wales and Ireland.

A consortium of Higher Education Institutes, from Wales and Ireland, have launched WIN-IPT (Wales Ireland Network for Innovative Photovoltaic Technologies) to help develop and sustain employment in the economically important Solar Energy sector. The Network is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland Wales Programme 2007-13.

WIN-IPT, an industry-informed initiative designed to promote innovation and enhance business opportunities for SMEs within the solar energy sector, is a collaborative initiative between Waterford Institute of Technology, Bangor University and Swansea University.

WIN-IPT will create an inter-regional (West Wales and South-East Ireland) hub of solar energy expertise through knowledge transfer between higher education research institutes, industry and local authorities.

Professor David Gethin, WCPC Director said; “We are delighted to be part of the WIN-IPT programme with a focus on photovoltaic research and application.  Driven by the imperative of future energy requirements, work in this field is very timely.  The project presents an opportunity to explore the challenges of organic photovoltaic technology for harvesting and the challenge of integrating this with other functional components such as batteries and displays.  Part of the research challenge that will be addressed within this programme will focus on manufacturing through the adoption of printing processes.  This is seen to be a future manufacturing route for the commercial exploitation of such products.”

Dr. Brian Murphy, Project Manager of the initiative said, “The Ireland-Wales region is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies involved in the development of solar energy technology and the WIN-IPT initiative will deliver direct R&D assistance and consultancy services to SMEs in the solar energy sector in this region.”

Solar electricity generation across Europe actually increased by 70% between 2010 and 2011. The cost of solar power is continuously decreasing year-on-year, as the cost of oil and gas continues to rise. Solar Energy electricity production costs are currently close to parity with fossil fuel based energy production in Southern Europe, and will become the logical alternative for all of Europe in the near future.

According to the European Photovoltaics Industry Association (EPIA), each MW of electricity installed generates up to 50 new jobs from production through to installation. A key strand of the initiative is to develop the next generation of solar cells/panels. Working with industrial partners on both sides of the Irish Sea, demonstration trails of new solar PV technologies are planned, including the installation of indoor energy harvesting technologies in flagship buildings. 

For more information about WIN-IPT go to : www.winipt.eu

The WIN-IPT initiative is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between the Schools of Engineering and Science at Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland; the School of Electronic Engineering at Bangor University, Wales and the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) at the School of Engineering, Swansea University, Wales (http://www.swan.ac.uk/printing).