Government funding boost for world-leading energy research at Swansea University

Swansea University has welcomed the announcement that it is to receive £12m of UK Government funding to develop the UK’s first Energy Safety Research Institute. The total funding for the project will be £38m.

The Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) will be housed on the University’s proposed new Science and Innovation Campus and will provide a world class facility, capable of attracting high quality international researchers. It will improve the share of research funding that is spent in Wales.

There will be around 150 high level professional jobs associated with the institute.  The research activity carried out there will lead to spin out company formation and further stimulate economic growth.  The project will also create construction jobs and a need for a supply chain infrastructure to support the research activities.

The ESRI is a £38 million investment which will concentrate elements of the University’s energy research with a unique focus on safety. This will be based on long-term strengths in petroleum and chemical processing – particularly in terms of computational science (rock fracture modelling and ‘fracking’) and corrosion. The primary collaborator will be BP. The ESRI will focused on the safety issues surrounding the development of existing energy processes, as well as the safe deployment and integration of new green energy technologies.

Professor Ian Cluckie, Swansea University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor with responsibility for Science and Engineering, said: “One of the most fundamental technical, political and social challenges facing the world in the 21st century is providing clean, affordable energy, whose supply is sustainable and universally available. Meeting this challenge will enable society to address many other critical problems that face the world, such as providing clean drinking water and food. Safety issues continue and will increasingly become a fundamental part of future energy practice and policy.

“Swansea University is taking what we believe to be a unique approach to collaborative and interactive energy research, with technological research dovetailed with policy and business implications. This means that as well as carrying out research of international importance, the new institute will stimulate additional investment and economic growth in the region.”

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: "It is fantastic that our top businesses and top charities are queuing up to collaborate with our world-class universities. They want to work together to deliver innovation, commercialisation and growth, which will help make sure the UK competes and thrives in the global race. This excellent project between Swansea University and BP will tackle the key issues we face."

First Minister Carwyn Jones also welcomed the announcement. He said: "Strengthening the research capacity of Welsh universities is a key priority for the Welsh Government and vital for the long term sustainable growth of the economy. It is therefore excellent news for Swansea and for Wales that funding has been secured for this new research institute.

“Based on the planned new campus it will provide a strong focus for developing collaborative links between academia and industry and spin-off activity supporting economic growth in one of our key sectors.

“I am also pleased that the new institute will attract high-quality researchers to Wales, an area the Welsh Government is already actively supporting and promoting through our Sêr Cymru initiative.”