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Low Carbon Research Institute unveiled for all Wales

15 Tachwedd 2007

The Schools of Architecture and Engineering are among the partners in the new all-Wales Low Carbon Research Institute, which aims to make Wales an international showcase for sustainable energy use.

The Welsh Assembly Government has just announced £5.1M in funding for the Institute, which will co-ordinate research on clean energy technologies and their implementation in Wales.

The Institute will be led by the Welsh School of Architecture, with the School of Engineering, Bangor University School of Chemistry, Swansea School of Engineering and Glamorgan University’s Sustainable Environment Research Centre as the other research partners.

The Institute will have four main themes:

  • Low carbon energy generation, storage and distribution. Areas of research will include large-scale offshore wind and tidal power generation, biomass microgeneration sites, more efficient photovoltaic electricity technology, fuel cell and hydrogen technologies in generation and transport, and more sustainable coal and gas-powered energy.
  • Energy demand reduction. This will include research into low carbon buildings, including more energy efficient heating, cooling, ventilating and lighting. There will be also research into energy controls for industry and greater use of waste heat.
  • An Energy Graduate School. This will offer courses on energy to create a highly skilled Welsh workforce familiar with sustainability issues. The School will work with industry on meeting its training needs.
  • Partnerships with industry, research organisations and Government. Links will be established with industry and central and local Government to help translate research into practice. The possibility of creating new energy industries for Wales, such as large and small-scale renewables and smart metering, will be explored. The Institute will also advise the Welsh Assembly Government on delivery of its Energy Policy.

The funding is provided by the Welsh Assembly Government through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales’ Reconfiguration and Collaboration Fund, which supports higher education institutions in joining together to achieve world class research. The Institute will also seek European, UK government and industry funding to support a research agenda which stretches decades into the future. The five university partners will also be looking to establish collaborative programmes with other research groups in the UK and overseas.

At Cardiff, the Institute will enable the School of Architecture to further build its research capacity in the energy field to form partnerships to bid for interdisciplinary research projects at national and international level. It will also help the School of Engineering continue to develop formal partnerships and collaborations with the energy industry.

Professor Phil Jones, Head of the Welsh School of Architecture said: "Energy demand and supply is vital to Wales’ future, and the nation has great potential to exploit a range of low carbon technologies. Our aim is that the Low Carbon Research Institute will be recognised internationally as an interdisciplinary centre promoting excellence in research and attracting leaders in the field to Wales. More importantly, the Institute will seek to achieve more affordable low carbon energy costs, improve energy efficiency from different sources, reduce energy demand across all sectors, make Wales less dependent on imported fuels and reduce climate change."

Announcing the funding, Welsh Assembly Government First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "We need to engage with Welsh institutions and organisations to find a Welsh solution to the challenge of climate change that in no way compromises the competitiveness, in fact should boost, the Welsh economy and the establishment of a Low Carbon Institute will help to develop our research expertise and boost Wales’ international competitiveness. Low carbon is one of the three key strands of Wales’ science policy."