Posted on 26 October 2012
A pilot manufacturing facility that will put Wales at the forefront
of global renewable energy technology has been opened today by business
secretary Vince Cable and Wales' first minister Carwyn Jones.
The facility is a pilot production line that will develop steel and
glass sheet products coated with photovoltaic cells that, when
incorporated into existing and new buildings, will help turn them into
power stations, and provide building owners and occupiers with a
reliable energy source at point of use.
First reported by EAEM almost a year ago,
this revolutionary technology will enable walls and roofs to generate,
store and release energy, partly using a new kind of dye-based solar
technology that enables the sheet materials simply to be printed with
the registry-generating cells.
The plant is located at Baglan Energy Park, near Port Talbot. The
technology has been developed at SPECIFIC, the Innovation and Knowledge
Centre (IKC), led by Swansea University, one of six IKCs in the UK,
backed by £10m funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences
Research Council (EPSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board.
The £20m, five-year project at SPECIFIC has been helped with a further £2m funding from the Welsh government.
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
The IKC's partners are, in addition to Swansea University, Imperial
College, Bangor, Cardiff, Glyndwr, Bath and Sheffield and multi-national
companies Tata Steel, BASF, Beckers and NSG Pilkington.
SPECIFIC’s target is to generate a portfolio of products which, by
2020, will contribute to national renewable energy targets. Its open
innovation approach relies on engineers, scientists and business people
working together under one roof to develop and test potential world
"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," added Bygate.
Tata Steel Europe Ltd (formerly Corus) is Europe's second largest
steel producer. With main steelmaking operations in the UK and the
Netherlands, the company supplies steel and related services to the
construction, automotive, packaging, material handling and other
demanding markets worldwide.