Welsh Government
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£3m study into energy generating buildings

A unique £3m project to test how building facades could be developed to generate clean electricity has been announced by Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies.

Cardiff University’s Sustainable Building Envelope Demonstration (SBED) study aims to explore how the role of the building envelope could be transformed to incorporate systems which can generate, store and distribute renewable energy.

The pilot scheme will involve designing prototype systems using integrated solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies. They will then be tested in a range of buildings, including housing, offices and factories.

Backed with £1.8m from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, the scheme will develop products that not only reduce the energy requirements and costs of buildings, but also generate thermal and electrical energy in existing buildings. If successful, the new systems could play a vital role in future building and construction programmes, creating further ‘green’ jobs.

Speaking ahead of the Plenary debate on the future of European Programmes in Wales, Mr Davies, said that the SBED project is an excellent example of how EU funding can be invested to support Welsh Government goals and those of Europe 2020:

“We are committed to ensuring our European Programmes are amongst the most successful in the EU in shaping the conditions for smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. SBED will not only support our low carbon agenda to strengthen the green economy, but also create opportunities for the construction industry.

“Looking ahead we want to build on this success and continue, in partnership, to identify areas where any future EU programmes, including the Structural Funds, Rural Development and Fisheries programmes, can build our economic base, transform our communities and enhance the life opportunities of people across the country.”  

SBED will closely monitor the construction, implementation and performance of the demonstration systems, sharing best practice with industry including data on energy saved, installation techniques and maintenance issues, so they can become widely used.

Phil Jones, Chair Low Carbon Research Institute, Cardiff University, said:

“The potential for using the envelope of the building to collect solar energy is huge. SBED will develop and demonstrate an integrated approach to building scale renewable energy generation, rather than have it as a bolt-on.

“This project aims to kick start the industry for the provision, installation and maintenance of these systems by showing, through working examples, how the technologies can be integrated into various building types in Wales.”

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