Turning buildings into ‘power stations’
BASF Coatings is one of the partners in an Innovation & Knowledge Centre that turns buildings into ‘power stations’ capable of generating, storing and releasing their own energy.
Representing a major shift in energy generation for the built environment, has the potential to develop into a £1 billion UK industry. It is forecast to deliver huge economic benefits, including up to 10,000 new jobs in the supply chain, anchoring advanced manufacturing in the UK and providing global export opportunities.
Business Secretary, Vince Cable, and Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones helped to bring this vision a step closer this week when they visited the new pilot manufacturing facility to start-up the sheet production line that will turn out functional, conductive steel and glass building products on a pilot scale - integrated into the fabric of roofs, walls and ceilings of new and existing buildings. The products will later be taken up by industrial partners for large-scale production.
Mr Cable said: “The Government’s £10 million 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.”
Partnership of government, academia and industry
The partnership of government, academia and industry represents a powerful fusion of expertise, brought together under the Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) initiative. It has been triggered by a £20 million investment over five-years, led by Swansea University and based at the Baglan Bay IKC near Port Talbot, in South Wales – codenamed SPECIFIC, short for Sustainable Product Engineering Centre for Innovative Functional Coatings.
In addition to Swansea University the partnership involves leading university groups, including Imperial College, Bath, Bangor, Cardiff, Glyndwr and Sheffield, and multi-nationals such as Tata Steel, BASF and NSG Pilkington.
The IKC is backed by £10 million funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board, and a further £2 million from the Welsh Government.
Kevin Bygate, chief executive of SPECIFIC, said: “What we are achieving at the Baglan Bay Innovation & 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 production line today which will pave the way for rapid commercialisation and the creation of a major UK industry.”