Tackling green energy challenges

Edwina Hart launching Sêr Cymru at Aberystwyth University in 2012

Edwina Hart launching Sêr Cymru at Aberystwyth University in 2012

12 March 2014

The Low Carbon, Energy and the Environment Network, a pan Wales initiative led by Aberystwyth and Bangor University, is one of three projects to share funding of £21m as part of the Welsh Government’s £50m Sêr Cymru programme.

The Network has been awarded £7m to appoint PhD students and fellows to develop new research and attract more investment to Wales.

Led by Professor David Thomas, Professor of Marine Biology at the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor, the focus of the network is on the interactions between land, water, the provision of food and energy production, and how they can be maintained to meet society’s needs particularly in the face of the challenges posed by climate change.

Professor Thomas, who has held research posts in Germany, Denmark and Finland, said: “The overarching aim for this network is to look at how we can integrate our natural resources to ensure we have continued energy, water and food security while maintaining the other benefits that our land, rivers, lakes and coastal waters provide,”

“This requires a new approach which will see scientists from different disciplines and institutions working together, and this can best be organised via a national research network.”

Although led by the Aberystwyth-Bangor Strategic Alliance, the network is a pan-Wales initiative comprised of partners from Bangor, Aberystwyth, Swansea, Cardiff and South Wales Universities, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the British Geological Survey Wales, and the UK MetOffice.

More information on the network is available at http://nrn-lcee.bangor.ac.uk

The funding was announced by Welsh Government Economy and Science Minister Edwina Hart on Thursday 13 March and marked the completion of the first phase of the Sêr Cymru programme which was launched at Aberystwyth University in September 2012 and aimed at attracting scientific talent to Wales.

The other initiatives to be funded are the Advanced Engineering and Materials Network, based at Swansea University and led by Professor Javier Bonet, and the Life Sciences and Health Network based at Cardiff University which is led by Professors Malcolm Mason and Chris McGuigan.

The networks will build on Wales’ world-class research in discovering new medicines, innovative engineering and tackling the challenges of green energy.

Speaking at the launch, Edwina Hart said: “Science and innovation are key pillars of a thriving economy. Boosting our science research capability is vital to improving our economic wellbeing and securing a more prosperous future for Wales. Researchers in Wales are amongst the best in the world for the sums invested. The Sêr Cymru Networks seek to increase that investment in Welsh science by supporting and growing research excellence.”

Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales, Professor Julie Williams said: “As the Elsevier report demonstrated we already have excellent, high quality research taking place here in Wales but we need more of it. These networks will help us achieve that in areas that have the potential to create long-term, lasting economic and social benefits for Wales and beyond. They are already working on some exciting projects. For example these networks are researching grasses which can absorb more water to reduce flooding, building materials that produce their own energy from the sun and novel treatments for some of the most challenging diseases we face.”