The UK government has awarded £7m to the University and its consortium of 12 UK and Indian universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Brunel and Imperial College London. The funds come from the UK government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which supports innovative research that addresses the global issues faced by developing countries.
These products will then be integrated into buildings in five villages, enabling them to harness solar power and to generate their own energy independently of the central electric grid.
One of the key aims is to provide a real-life example which proves that the technology works, and that it is appropriate in these communities. The plan is that it will encourage local industries to manufacture affordable prefabricated buildings, adapted for their environment, that can generate, store and release their own power.
The project is in line with Indian government plans, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to transform India into a solar energy leader and to boost the Indian manufacturing sector.
Last year, Swansea University opened it “energy-positive” classroom, which generates power through a steel roof with integrated solar cells. The cells are connected to two batteries which are capable of storing enough energy to power the building for two days.
The classroom also uses Tata Steel’s perforated steel cladding for the generation of solar heat energy, which can be stored in a water-based system and an electrically-heated floor coating developed by the SPECIFIC consortium researchers.
Professor Dave Worsley from Swansea University, Head of Research at the SPECIFIC project and leader of the SUNRISE team said: “The energy-positive classroom we built shows that this technology works, successfully turning buildings into power stations. He added that the funding will enable the researchers to export this model to support India’s plans to boost solar energy production.
He added: “The Swansea team will be working closely with our partner universities in the UK and India. Our hope is that if we can show this works on five villages in India, then it could be rolled out to other buildings in India and around the world.”