Welsh low-carbon institute unveiled

The Welsh Assembly Government has announced £5.1m in funding for the all-Wales Low Carbon Research Institute that will co-ordinate research on clean energy technologies and their implementation in Wales.

The Institute will be led by Cardiff University’s Welsh School of Architecture and will be partnered by Cardiff’s School of Engineering, Bangor University’s School of Chemistry, Swansea University’s School of Engineering and Glamorgan University’s Sustainable Environment Research Centre.

The Institute will have four main themes. The first – low carbon energy generation, storage and distribution – will cover areas of research including 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.

The energy demand reduction theme will include research into low carbon buildings, including more energy efficient heating, cooling, ventilating and lighting. There will also be research into energy controls for industry and greater use of waste heat.

An Energy Graduate School will be founded to 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.

Lastly, the instutute will form 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.