Almost £5m of EU funds is being invested in putting Wales at the forefront of next generation solar energy technology.
The funding will support a five-year research programme at Welsh universities aimed at addressing the key challenges of developing next generation solar photovoltaic technology.
SPARC II (the Solar Photovoltaic Academic Research Consortium) will be led by Swansea University in partnership with Bangor and Aberystwyth universities.
The research will focus on new applications for next generation solar technology including mobile products, aircraft and the space industry.
The programme is expected to unlock a further £10m of inward investment to Wales through additional large-scale research and development with multinational companies and specialist manufacturers.
Welsh businesses in the solar energy industry will also benefit from manufacturing opportunities and access to the world-class research and expertise being developed at universities in Wales.
In addition to £4.8m of EU funds, SPARC II is being funded by a £2.4m investment from the participating universities.
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:
“This investment is positive news. It will help make Wales a centre of excellence for collaborative research and development with global companies, and create new opportunities for Welsh solar energy businesses”.
Professor Stuart Irvine, Director of Swansea University’s Centre for Solar Energy Research, added:
“The EU funds for SPARC II provide a unique opportunity to build world class research capacity through a collaboration of leading university research teams.
“This is a very exciting time for solar photovoltaic research with the emergence of new materials that could dramatically reduce the cost of solar electricity, making it affordable for all.
“I am delighted that Swansea University has taken the lead with SPARC II and I am looking forward to working with colleagues in Aberystwyth and Bangor to achieve this goal and establish long term sustainability in our research capacity.”