The new classroom that creates more energy than it uses
The Active Classroom generates, stores and releases its own solar energy
A newly built classroom at Swansea University is the first in the UK that creates more energy than it uses. Built by Swansea University's SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, the Active Classroom generates, stores and releases its own solar energy.
Electricity is generated by a steel roof with integrated solar cells, supplied by SPECIFIC spin out company BIPVco.
It is connected to two saltwater batteries, which are being used in the UK for the first time and are capable of storing enough energy to power the building for two days.
The building also uses Tata Steel's perforated steel cladding for generation of solar heat energy, which can be stored in a water-based system, and an electrically heated floor coating that has been developed by SPECIFIC researchers.
Architect Jo Morgan said: "Some of the technology is new, but most is already available on the market and affordable. Whilst each product is in itself important, the real innovation is in the way they work together to generate, store and release energy."
The Active Classroom's control system combines technical performance data from each component with occupancy and seasonal weather variations to manage the building's energy use and provide a comfortable environment for students.
Ms Morgan added: "For us this project wasn't just about showing that it works technically: it was also about working closely with our construction industry partners on a real project, developing skills and helping to bring low carbon buildings like this closer to market."
The walls are clad with a new perforated steel cladding from Tata Steel that draws in air to heat the building
Solar Plants is one of many partners on the project. The Port Talbot based company is assisting the SPECIFIC team with the design and installation of the solar-to-storage connectivity.
Ian Hewson, off-grid engineer for Solar Plants, said: "We are proud to be involved with this game-changing project. This classroom challenges commercial property design norms, and if successful will help shape the way buildings are designed going forward.
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"Working with engineering giants Tata Steel and innovators SPECIFIC has been an incredible experience and has helped Solar Plants develop market leading knowledge in this new technology."
Electricity can be stored in two saltwater batteries for two days
The Active Classroom provides teaching space and a laboratory for Swansea University students, as well as a building-scale development facility for SPECIFIC and its industry partners.
SPECIFIC is led by Swansea University and working with more than 50 partners from academia, industry and government to deliver its vision for buildings as power stations.
Its strategic partners are Tata Steel, BASF, NSG Pilkington Glass and Cardiff University, and it is part-funded by Innovate UK, EPSRC, and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.