UK-funded 'homes as power stations' project to bring solar-storage to Indian villages

A Swansea University-led consortium has been awarded £7m in UK government funding to demonstrate solar homes capable of generating and storing their own electricity in several remote Indian villages.

The solar project - dubbed Sunrise - will use printed photovoltaic cells developed produced through innovative manufacturing processes to construct a number of solar energy products in India, the University said.

The PV cells will then be integrated into buildings in five villages, enabling the homes to operate "as power stations", generating their own solar power and operating entirely off grid.

The money was awarded to the Specific initiative, a Swansea University-led consortium of 12 UK and Indian universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Brunel, and Imperial College London.

Key aims of the project are to provide real-life examples of the technology operating successfully, and to assess whether or not such technologies are appropriate for use in remote communities.

Swansea University said it hoped the project would encourage local industries to manufacture affordable prefabricated buildings that are adapted for their environment "and can generate, store and release their own power".

The project followlast year's opening of an energy positive classroom at Swansea University's Bay campus which was also designed and built by the Specific consortium using similar solar-battery technology that is designed to enable the "building as a power station" concept.

The classroom building uses Tata Steel's perforated steel cladding - supplied by BIPVco to generate solar heat energy, which can be stored in a water-based system. It also includes an electrically-heated floor coating developed by Specific researchers.

Swansea University's Professor Dave Worsley, head of research at the Specific project and leader of the SUNRISE team, said the energy-positive classroom demonstrated the technology could successfully turn buildings into power stations.

"This funding will enable us to export this model to support India's plans to boost solar energy," he said. "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."

The £7m funding for the project comes from the government's Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Minister for universities and science, Jo Johnson, said the Specific initiative and other green energy projects highlighted the strength of the UK's research base.

"At a time when the pace of scientific discovery and innovation is quickening, we are placing science and research at the heart of our Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and maintain our status as science powerhouse," said Johnson.

Source: Business Green