Start Date
March 31, 2016

End Date
March 30, 2023


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The UK faces a challenge of providing an energy system that is secure, sustainable and affordable. The cost of upgrading the power infrastructure is estimated to be £200bn using a centralised energy generation model. We believe that the Buildings as Power Stations concept can create a whole new manufacturing and business opportunity and dramatically reduce the investment required to create a secure future for the next generation. Even reducing the power infrastructure investment by 10% represents a £20bn UK opportunity which is mirrored across the developed world.

So far on our journey we have had substantial impact and SPECIFIC is a key component to ensure commercialisation of these disruptive technologies principally though leadership of demonstration of new technology in the built environment. Research leadership and excellence is backed up by the publishing of 149 papers, international invited conference presentations and an expanding portfolio of 29 patents. A network of over 52 early adopter industrial partners, spanning both large corporates through to a selection of fast moving and innovative SMEs has also been grown. Where no company or market yet exists we have elected to spin two companies out. Alongside this, world class facilities have been created for large scale research and demonstration of product manufacture, including three pilot lines co-located with world class scientific research instrumentation. The opening of the Solcer Demonstration house in July this year is a key milestone; with colleagues at the Welsh School of Architecture (Cardiff) and the construction supply chain, this 'Active House' uses EXISTING technology harnessed in a unique way to generate up to twice as much energy as it uses. Combining solar electric and thermal generation and storage systems the house is globally unique and with a construction cost of under £150k it is affordable.

The journey into the next decade brings both challenge and opportunity. We intend to build on the success of the first four years and to deliver critical new technologies to market, including printed photovoltaics at half the current commercial Si cost, safer building scale aqueous batteries delivering the opportunity to time shift renewable generation to demand, and solar thermal integrated storage solutions which create Active Buildings that do not require gas heating. Each of these sectors alone represent a billion pound opportunity and together they create a compelling case for a paradigm shift in our energy matrix from centralised generation and grid distribution to a model of distributed energy generation.

This is disruptive technology so accurate market assessment is challenging. However, considering domestic new build in isolation, with 145,000 new UK homes built in 2014 and assuming an average £125k construction cost (proved through the Solcer House project) this translates to a >£1.8bn annual domestic new build opportunity if only 10% of new homes use the Buildings as Powerstations concept. Given it is affordable, environmentally friendly and offers building owners an additional income stream this projection is conservative. The opportunity in retrofit is even larger as is that in commercial and industrial buildings. The associated manufacturing opportunity will create 5000 jobs in the construction supply chain and give the UK, centred in Wales, a 'once in a lifetime opportunity' to lead the world using technology invented, developed, proven and manufactured here. Wales and the UK can be a beacon of leadership for developed and developing nations alike in a new industrial revolution.

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Potential Impact:
We believe that the SPECIFIC IKC can deliver a new Buildings as Powerstations (BAPS) industry within the next phase of the project. This has been recently re-inforced by the completion of the first BAPS demonstrator (the SOLCER House produced with Cardiff University with support from Tata, Pilkington BASF and the construction supply chain). This demonstrator is not only affordable NOW but generates twice the energy it uses in a year. This powerful example will become even more attractive as new low cost energy generation and storage technologies are developed both at the IKC and elsewhere. SPECIFIC 2 supported by an additional >£10m investment from WG and support of over £6m from industry will lead demonstration projects for domestic, commercial and industrial both new and retrofit.

Scientific and Technical: key targets are to increase the scope of UK academic partnership and drive increased publication and quality from the IKC staff
(1) 200 journal papers and 150 conference publications with a focus on high impact factor journals (6+)
(2) the hosting of an annual 'Buildings as Powerstations' conference and other international events at Swansea and the IKC to boost international profile and interactions
(3) To base at least two 2020 Impact case studies on the research outputs of the IKC
(4) To increase RCUK income into the host institution by £18m (focussing on PV, storage and solar thermal)
(5) To grow the staff to 170-200 over the next five years and develop sustainable strands of future funding

Societal and Environmental: key targets are reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and an alternative low carbon method of powering buildings
(1) Produce 108 building demonstrators of different types both new and retrofit to prove the conomic and environmental case for Buildings as powerstations
(2) Create low carbon and net positive energy buildings at affordable cost for domestic, industrial and commercial buildings
(3) Generate up to one third of the UKs target renewable energy from building stock and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 6Mt per annum

Economic: key target is the creation of a >£1bn business opportunity in the UK
(1) Using the SOLCER house concept demonstrate that up to 10% UK new build could be make as 'active houses' representig a £1.8bn per annum opportunity
(2) Expand the new build philosophy to the 'Factory of the Future' through active building design demonstration with the user community
(3) Create new manufactured products (a) 20 p per watt peak PV within the lifetime of the IKC (b) solar thermal generation and storage at grid parity within the lifetime of the project and (c) alternative aqueous battery technologies at demonstration phase at the end of the project.

People: key targets are job creation and training of staff (at all levels)
(1) Create an internationally leading centre for Building integrated solar energy products employing up to 200 people
(2) Create a minumum of 250 jobs in supporting companies
(3) Training in the workplace of a minumum of 500 people on aspects of renewable technology to support their employment
(4) Training of a minimum of 50 post graduate engineers and scientists to work in the new industry
(5) Engagement with the wider community through sceince fairs and the Materials Live! project to include tens of thousands of participants

Subjects by relevance
  1. Industry
  2. Construction
  3. Technological development
  4. Industrial buildings
  5. Sustainable development
  6. Energy technology
  7. Costs
  8. Energy efficiency
  9. Innovations
  10. Supply chains
  11. Energy production (process industry)

Extracted key phrases
  1. Specific IKC Phase
  2. New low cost energy generation
  3. Gt;£1.8bn annual domestic new build opportunity
  4. UK new build
  5. New UK home
  6. Centralised energy generation model
  7. New building
  8. Pound;20bn UK opportunity
  9. Net positive energy building
  10. Critical new technology
  11. New build philosophy
  12. IKC staff
  13. New industrial revolution
  14. UKs target renewable energy
  15. Solar energy product

Related Pages

UKRI project entry

UK Project Locations