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April 2016 to March 2021

PI: David Worsley

SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre

Funded by: EPSRC, Innovate UK, European Regional Development Fund


Swansea University, University of Oxford, Imperial College London, Bath University

Partners and stakeholders:

Tata Steel UK, NSG Group, Akzo Nobel



Buildings are responsible for around 40% of the UK’s energy consumption and associated carbon emissions. SPECIFIC is paving the way for decarbonisation of heat and power in buildings, for the benefit of occupants and owners, wider society and the energy infrastructure. Our building concept integrates solar technology into one system – that enables the building to generate, store and release its own energy. SPECIFIC’s aim is to close the gap between technology research and commercialisation through technology scale-up, focusing on systems and integration through construction of first-of-a-kind buildings and the development of integrated supply chains and routes to market.


SPECIFIC’s vision is Active buildings – a world in which buildings can generate, store and release their own energy. To complete this we work in the following areas:

  • Technology Scale-up: SPECIFIC brings together a range of fields including photovoltaics, solar thermal, functional coatings as well as heat and electrical storage. Four integrated facilities deliver laboratory to line capability – including laboratory facilities at Swansea University, pilot manufacturing lines delivering building-scale products, and full-scale technology demonstrator buildings.
  • Systems and Integration: We develop new technologies, help others to develop theirs and create the systems that connect them in a building. We build ‘first-of-a-kind’ buildings to test and prove the systems. For example, the Active Classroom, used by students at Swansea University, contains a number of experimental technologies such as CIGS PV technology, Transpired Solar Collectors, heat pump technology and aqueous batteries, while the Active Office, used by the Active Building Centre, uses only commercially available technology. Our growing interdisciplinary network of leading universities and companies is working together to scale-up technologies, develop supply chains and identify routes to market.
  • The SHED in Margam, a 1990’s industrial unit of poor construction, is currently home to two major solar heat storage demonstrators. Diurnal Solar Store: A solar air collector of approximately 590m2 on the southwest facing wall of the building supplies heat into the building or to a large water tank, which stores heat for use the following day, eliminating gas consumption and allowing an estimated energy saving of 75%. Inter-seasonal Heat Store: is the Inter-seasonal Heat Store and stores heat from a Tata Steel Colorcoat Renew solar collector on the roof of the building in SIM (salt in matrix) thermochemical material. Moist air passed over the SIM causes an exothermic reaction, releasing heat from the salt matrix for use in the room.

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