A £4.4 million solar energy project being undertaken at the Glyndwr University in North Wales is expected to create up to 50 research jobs in the region. The university for Solar Energy Research Centre (CSER) aims to bring affordable renewable energy to thousands, even in the wettest parts of the UK.

The university is to develop new photovoltaic (PV) solar cells which will be optimised for collecting solar energy from weather conditions in Wales as part of the Solar Photovoltaic Academic Research Consortium Cymru (SPARC Cymru).

Researchers at OpticGlyndwr in St Asaph will be collaborating with scientists from Bangor and Swansea universities to complete the three-year project, which is part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government.

Jobs will be created through the research, which will develop new technologies and innovations, as well as through the supply chain and commercial enterprises which benefit from increased take-up of solar cells.

Professor Stuart Irvine, Director of CSER, told local newspaper Business Post, “This is very much a collaborative project, with our expertise in solar energy being combined with the electronics technology expertise of Swansea University in improving efficiency when converting the energy into electricity which can be used on the National Grid. The project also combines our thin-film technology with innovative dye sensitised solar cells with researchers at Bangor and Swansea Universities.”

“We have world class facilities in St Asaph with the capability to see everything through from initial research to the production of small thin-film solar modules. We’re currently operating with cells of 5cm square but the aim is to get up to test modules of 30cm square – taking us much closer to a size of solar cell which can be used commercially to provide the future electricity needs of Wales,” continued Irvine.

The news of the SPARC project comes as the Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI), which includes partners Glyndwr, Aberystwyth and Bangor and was recently awarded £15.3 million from the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) to enable Wales to lead the way in cutting carbon emissions, held its annual conference in Cardiff.