ERDF P1 Project News: SPECIFIC

Apr 28, 2022

SPECIFIC’s awards keep coming

Last year the long running SPECIFIC project led by Swansea University was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its Materials Science and Engineering research that is leading a revolution in renewable energy technologies, particularly solar electricity and heat generation and storage.

In the ten years since SPECIFIC was founded, its achievements include:

  • The world’s first dye-sensitised solar cell deposited directly onto a steel substrate which is a critical enabler to large-scale manufacture of building-integrated photovoltaics.
  • A reduction of the time to provide low-cost solution processable photovoltaics from 30 minutes to 2.5 seconds.
  • New methods that reduce the manufacturing time for dye-sensitive solar cells from several hours to less than two minutes.
  • The UK’s first energy positive classroom demonstrating that solar energy can power and heat buildings.
  • Collaborative projects with 211 businesses and 128 research and academic partners in 17 countries.
  • Six spin-out companies creating jobs and supporting an innovative pipeline for steel building materials.
  • Working with two local housing associations to develop 18 low carbon homes for social housing tenants.

Now, a Cardiff University branch of the project has received the Environment Champion award at this year’s St. David’s awards.  The University’s Low Carbon Built Environment Team (LCBE) based at the Welsh School of Architecture was recognised for its work helping to significantly reduce carbon emissions in housing whilst improving conditions and reducing energy bills.

Working closely with Welsh Government, local government and other stakeholders, the LCBE team has shown that it is possible to combine market available solutions to reduce energy use and emissions whilst improving the built environment and stimulating the economy.  Examples of the team’s work include the design and construction of the affordable, energy-positive SOLCER house, which inspired a £10 million government grant scheme to build new affordable, low carbon housing across Wales.

The LCBE Team also provided vital data for a Welsh Government report on how to decarbonise existing housing more efficiently.  This work influenced the Optimised Retrofit Programme (ORP) where low carbon measures are being installed in up to 1,700 homes, including heat pumps, intelligent energy systems and solar panels.

On receiving the award, Dr Jo Patterson, from the Welsh School of Architecture, said: “We are extremely proud of what we have achieved over the last 10 years, proving that affordable low-carbon housing is possible and critical if we are to meet our net zero targets over the coming years.  Furthermore, our work has had a tangible and positive impact on the everyday lives of many people living across Wales, for example generating savings of up to £1,000 a year on energy bills for households.”

The St David Awards are the national awards of Wales, with 10 awards given out each year in categories ranging from bravery and community spirit, to innovation, science and technology.  The finalists are suggested by members of the public and the winners are decided upon by the First Minister of the Welsh Government and his advisers.

Find out more about SPECIFIC at Cardiff