During a visit to Wales by European Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik to Wales today, 8th November, First Minister Rhodri Morgan announced the Welsh Assembly Government's approval for four Welsh universities, including the University of Glamorgan, to receive a share of £5.1 million to develop a Low Carbon Research Institute.
The Institute will establish Wales as an internationally recognised centre of research on sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency.
Rhodri Morgan said, â€œThe development of a low carbon energy economy in Wales is one of the Welsh Assembly Government's priorities to help reduce our carbon footprint. We need to engage with Welsh institutions and organisations to find a Welsh solution to the challenge of climate change that in no way compromises the competitiveness, in fact should boost, the Welsh economy and the establishment of a Low Carbon Institute will help to develop our research expertise and boost Wales' international competitiveness. Low carbon is one of the three key strands of Wales' science policy.â€
The Sustainble Energy Research Centre (SERC) is leading the initiative at Glamorgan.
The Institute, to be led by Cardiff University, is being funded by the Welsh Assembly Government through HEFCW's Reconfiguration and Collaboration fund, which supports higher education institutions in joining together to achieve world class research.
Jane Hutt, Education Minister said: â€œThe Institute will draw together and build upon existing expertise across a range of disciplines at Bangor, Cardiff, Glamorgan and Swansea Universities, bringing about a step change in research capacity and enhancing international competitiveness.
â€œIn particular, this should enable the partner universities to achieve substantial growth in the level of research grants secured from UK and European funding sources.
Welcoming the news, Jane Davidson, Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing said: â€œIt will play a key role in the development of a low carbon energy economy in Wales, a key Welsh Assembly Government Science priority. This will provide the twin benefits of contributing to a reduction in Welsh and worldwide carbon emissions an developing a world-class low carbon energy business and research sector based in Wales that can contribute to the development of Wales' economic growth and job creation.â€
Professor Philip Gummett, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said: â€œWe cannot underestimate how the Institute will contribute to the development of a low carbon economy in Wales, which is particularly timely given research which revealed that Wales needed to improve its carbon footprint in relation to the rest of the UK and many European countries. Furthermore, through an Energy Graduate School, Wales will be able to train the energy research experts of tomorrow and meet the high-level skills needs of industry.â€
The Institute will focus its research effort around two main themes. Under a Low Carbon energy Generation, Storage and Distribution theme, it will examine how targets for renewable energy uptake can be met, with issues such as the cost of sustainable energy and other barriers to introduction to be addressed. In addition, a Carbon Reduction and Energy Efficiency theme will tackle the issue of energy demand, examining measures to reduce energy use and their potential impact.