Leading Swansea University researcher helps launch the Net Zero Wales Plan with Welsh Government

Welsh Government’s new Net Zero Wales Plan was launched today at an event held at the Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator building near Port Talbot, a research facility operated by SPECIFIC. Hosted by ITV Wales presenter, Ruth Dodsworth, the event was supported by the Welsh research community in a panel consisting of the First Minister of Wales, Rt. Hon Mark Drakeford MS; Minister for Climate Change Julie James MS; Professor Dave Worsley, Vice President (Innovation) at Swansea University; and Poppy Stowell-Evans Youth Climate Ambassador for Wales.

The launch event was an opportunity to explore the changes needed to achieve Wales’ environmental, economic and social aims, as well as the opportunities and risks the changes present. Professor Worsley, who grew up in Pembrokeshire, was keen to demonstrate how the universities in Wales are working on some of the toughest challenges facing the decarbonisation of industry and housing, two major pillars of the Welsh society. He highlighted how research outcomes from major multi-million pound projects such as SPECIFIC, FLEXIS and SWITCH Connect have helped to unlock immense potential in areas such as the Port Talbot Steel Works, and how the universities of Wales are adapting to fill the skills-gap that stands in the way of Wales fully capitalising on it’s green industries.

Professor David Worsley, Vice President (Innovation) at Swansea University

The event itself was held at a Welsh decarbonisation research facility, The Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator in Margam which is used to trial two large-scale solar heat storage demonstrators.

The SPECIFIC Solar Energy Heat Demonstrator research facility in Port Talbot, South Wales. It is a 1990’s industrial unit that has been retrofitted with solar technology, and as a result, has been running without gas since 2012.

Ministers introduced a five year plan of action, explained its role in shaping the next stage of our pathway to net zero by 2050 and emphasised the importance of working together to help deliver our decade of climate action. The role of science and research in developing the new innovations required to realise that pathway cannot be understated.

From the plan:

“The need for a coherent science and innovation system – to collect and analyse data, to investigate potential avenues for mitigation, to develop new techniques, products and services to deliver a net
zero Wales – is embedded throughout this strategy.”

“In our proactive approach to net zero, we will continue to support and value the high-quality research base available in Wales, for example through our support to Sêr Cymru.”

The next few years require a massive decarbonisation of electricity and heating [source; Carbon Budget 2]

From creating places for nature to giving the poorest people in Wales warmer, more energy efficient homes, as well as the things we want to take forward in this Government term and in this carbon budget, like a reformed sustainable farming scheme and creating a national forest. We recognise we haven’t got all of the answers – we want to work with and learn from people across Wales to find innovative solutions to the challenges we face and this is why, along with Net Zero Wales, we are also publishing another document today.

Climate Change Minister Julie James

Welsh research excels at addressing UN sustainable development goals

Full Press Release by Bangor University: https://www.bangor.ac.uk/news/welsh-science-is-world-leading-in-addressing-the-biggest-challenges-facing-the-planet

Wales may be a small country, but it punches above its weight in the quality and the quantity of the research it carries out. A new report published today (Thursday, 30 September, 2021), highlights the particular strength of Welsh science in contributing to efforts to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Low Carbon Energy and Environment Research Network Wales have brought together a collection of case studies to illustrate the depth and breadth of excellent research going on in Wales which is contributing the biggest global challenges society faces.

The report “UN SDGs: Wales’ Research Performance with UK and Global Comparators” was launched at an event hosted by First Minister, Mark Drakeford, and Chief Scientific Advisor, Peter Halligan. 

This report is such positive reading. High quality research is critical to finding solutions to difficult problems, and it is so encouraging to read how much of Wales’s research effort is targeted to the most important challenges we face, and how this is world-leading in terms of quality. 

One wonderful example is how Bangor University is working with Cardiff University to monitor COVID-19 levels in wastewater. They are sharing this expertise with local and international partners worldwide, so this new science can help tackle the pandemic in different contexts.

Professor Julia Jones, Director of the Low Carbon Energy and Environment Research Network Wales and professor at Bangor University

The Sustainable Development Goals were agreed by all member states of the United Nations in 2015 as an urgent call for action by all countries. They recognise that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

Dr Rattan Yadav, Aberystwyth University, said:

“In IBERS among a wide variety of projects, we are working with partners in India and Africa to develop new varieties of pearl millet, a staple food, which can help reduce the risk of diabetes-this is contributing the SDG 2 – Zero Hunger and SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being.”

Professor Carole Llewellyn, Swansea University, said:

“Swansea University is growing microalgae using waste nutrients from farming and food industries which is then used to generate new products such as animal feed. Thus working with farmers, industry and policy makers we are reducing waste and replacing unsustainable products with ones that are more sustainable. This contributes to a wide range of the Sustainable Development Goals including responsible consumption and climate action.”

Among the SDGs, Welsh research is making a particularly strong contribution to those which relate to the planet such as SDGs 13, Climate Action, 14, Life below Water, and 15, Life on Land.

Professor Mike Bruford, Cardiff University, said: 

“This report is very positive as it emphasises that impactful research in environmental sciences and sustainability also has global traction and increases the visibility of Welsh research. In Cardiff we have tried to focus on multidisciplinary research in the environmental sciences both in Wales and in key global regions and it is good to see that the global research community is acknowledging this.”

A critical factor in Wales’s success is the extent to which researchers collaborate extensively across borders and sectors. Welsh research is most effective where Welsh researchers work collaboratively with others, regardless of geographies and sectors, demonstrating the productive outcome of years of international networking.

Peter Halligan, Chief Scientific Advisor for Wales

With COP26 little more than a month away, this report makes for very interesting reading and I was so proud to see the contribution our scientists continue to make to global issues.

 Whether it is helping us tackle the Covid pandemic or tackling the challenges of climate change, the report makes it clear that Wales plays a disproportionately strong role in Sustainable Development Goals related research.

At 130% above the world average, Wales had the joint highest overall citation impact of all of the comparators considered in the report making us a global leader in Sustainable Development Goals related research.

The report highlights the depth and breadth of research and talent we have here in Wales and our strengths in the fields of people, planet and prosperity.

Julie James, Minister for Climate Change

Research network makes case for science underpinning the Programme for Government

Welsh Government’s Research & Innovation Strategic Engagement Group (RISE) brings together key stakeholders within Welsh Government who support and develop research that happens in Wales.

Research network director Prof Julia P G Jones was invited to make the case to First Minister Mark Drakeford and the RISE group for why investment in science underpins the Programme for Government. Programmes such as Sêr Cymru, to which the research network belongs, are a proven and well-established mechanism to increase the funding brought into Wales – an all-important topic as we near the end of EU structural funds, which has underpinned many of Welsh Government’s investments in the both academic and scientific sectors.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for us to present our latest tool to help facilitate connections between Welsh Government and the brilliant researchers working in Wales’ universities. We call this a ‘mapping document’. It has been created to help draw connections between commitments in Welsh Labour’s 2021-2026 Programme for Government and the necessary research topics required to achieve them.

The Programme for Government sets out Welsh Government’s commitments for the 6th Senedd, from 2021 to 2026. Wales has enormous strength in research which can contribute to the delivery of these commitments. However, it can be difficult for policy makers to access the expertise of researchers quickly and efficiently. Therefore, we have produced a map which draws out commitments from the Programme for Government which have a connection to low carbon energy and environment research, identifies societal outcomes which these commitments aim to provide (green boxes), and indicates the areas of research strength (blue boxes) in Wales which can help deliver on these commitments.

The map is high-level and broad brush. We envisage it being useful to senior civil servants and ministers to identify senior academics who can give an overview of a research area and how it can contribute to policy.

This map in no way represents all areas of research strength in Wales – we are truly blessed with depth and breadth of research strength across the Low Carbon Energy and Environment space. For more specific recommendations, the Low Carbon Energy and Environment Research Network Wales can make detailed recommendations and connect you with the right researchers.

New Video Competition!

Are you a postgraduate researcher (PGR), or recently graduated PGR, in Wales working on topics relevant to climate change?

Do you want to show off your research to the public on a national stage?

Given the fantastic response, the submission deadline has been extended to 23:59, September 7th, 2021!

The Low Carbon Energy and Environment Research Network Wales would like to offer you the opportunity to be part of our new video series: Small Nation, Big Ideas: Welsh science tackling climate change! Our aim is to highlight the excellent researchers based in Wales, and their contributions to addressing one of the biggest challenges facing society. The series of short films will showcase cutting-edge research being carried out in Wales. Additionally, there will be lots of opportunities for researchers working on climate-change related topics to talk to the media in the run-up to COP26, so this video series is chance to for us to put a spotlight on engaging and enthusiastic speakers. The videos will be promoted on our website, social media channels, and have the chance to become part of the Wales Climate Week exhibit, reaching a large audience of fellow researchers, policy makers and the public.

Competition entries will be judged by an expert panel, including Professor Mike Bruford from Cardiff University and Professor Julia Patricia Gordon Jones from Bangor University. There will be a £100 cash prize for 1st place and a £50 cash prize for 2nd place.  

You can find an example of a finished video here:

If you have a submission that you would like to be considered for the video series, please get in touch. We can work with you to produce an engaging and informative short film. We will do the video editing, adding images, logos and music where needed. What we will need from you:

  • Video of you describing your research – entries must be no longer than 90 seconds, and shorter 60 second or less videos are also welcome. Please use language suitable for a public audience and focus on how the research can ultimately contribute to tackling or adapting to climate change. Please film your entry in portrait (vertical) and make sure that the video is as high quality as possible. Please also make sure that you are being lit from the front rather than behind. For best audio quality, use a well-placed microphone if you have one, or if you are filming on a smartphone, make sure that you are not too far away from the phone. Videos in the field or lab are very welcome, but please consider sound quality.
  • Additional high-resolution photographs/infographics or video clips of your experiments, field set up, code or simulations, interviews with the public or whatever your research involves.  
  • High-resolution logos and any acknowledgements.

We’re very interested in receiving submissions in Welsh or English (or both!)
Mae gennym ddiddordeb mawr mewn derbyn cyflwyniadau yn Gymraeg neu Saesneg (neu’r ddau!)

Once complete, will give you a MP4 of your final video to use in any way you like.

Please get in touch at nrnlcee@bangor.ac.uk to discuss your idea. We ask that you provide a link to your materials using your chosen cloud-based storage service. Note: The submission deadline for your content has been extended to 23:59, Tuesday 7th September 2021. Entries must be from early career researchers, including those completing their masters, PhD, or those who are within 2 years since completing their PhD.

We are the Low Carbon Energy and Environment Research Network Wales. Our mission is to support Wales’ world-leading research in low carbon energy, nature-based solutions to environmental challenges, the bioeconomy, and sustainable food production. We aim to enhance and build on the excellent research capability in Wales, and to increase competitive funding secured in Wales. Our vision is of world-leading research strength, contributing innovation internationally and economic strength domestically. 

Upcoming Webinar! Horizon Europe Funding and Specialist Support from Welsh Government

Did you know researchers in the UK can bid into the €95.5 billion Horizon Europe funding programme? Did you know there is unique training, bid development and funding support for researchers in Wales from @WelshGovernment?

The Horizon Europe Research and Innovation funding program was launched in February 2021 and the work programmes have just been published. Horizon Europe is supported with €95.5 billion EU funding plus matched funding from Associate Countries. It the successor to Horizon 2020 which delivered over €147 million to Wales. The UK is recognised as an Associate (subject to final confirmation) and researchers in the UK are confirmed to be eligible to participate.

In this interactive webinar you’ll get to learn about the upcoming funding calls linked to low carbon energy and environment topics, as well as the specific support available to researchers based in Wales.

Agenda: 60-minute webinar

  • The Welsh Government Horizon Europe Engagement Team will introduce the support they provide through training, funding and bid development, as well as giving an overview of how Horizon Europe is structured, where to find information, and the draft calls that are coming up in the next 18 months.
  • Prof. Carlos Garcia de Leaniz of Swansea University will give an overview of how he and his colleagues were successful in forming a consortium and winning €6m for their Horizon2020 project AMBER.
  • The Low Carbon Energy and Environment Research Network Wales will discuss how they are working to serve and support researchers in Wales through networking, advocacy and lobbying.
  • There will then be a 20-minute question and answer session with the experts where you can get answers to all your queries.

Register on Eventbrite:

New Briefing: The case for investment in Welsh research

With the end of Wales’ access to EU structural funds fast approaching, and the need to boost the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic, investment in Welsh research has never been more important than it is now.

Universities play a vital role in developing a high-skilled workforce and providing the innovation to drive economic growth. Welsh Universities generate about £5bn a year, almost 50,000 jobs, and are important catalysts for regional development.

It is with this in mind that the Sêr Cymru Research Networks (Life Sciences, Advanced Engineering, and Low Carbon Energy and Environment) have come together to publish a joint briefing on the need for investment into the Welsh research landscape.

Today provided the networks an opportunity to discuss the briefing with Chief Scientific Advisor for Wales, Professor Peter Halligan, in a first step toward laying out a vision for the future of networking and research in Wales.

You can find the full briefing below, as well as on our resources page along with our other major policy related documents.

Briefing: The case for investment in Welsh research

Prof Julia P G Jones Upcoming Presentation

Network director, Professor Jones, will be presenting at the Policy Forum for Wales event on Friday 14th of March.

Westminster Forum Projects (WFP) has its origins in the UK national Parliament, but its work now extends to policy decided in UK devolved Parliaments and Assemblies, the Oireachtas, and the European Commission and Parliament.

WFP currently offers 16 influential, impartial and cross-party forums, including the Policy Forum for Wales. The forums organise senior-level conferences on a wide range of public policy areas.

Prof Jones is due to speak at the upcoming forum conference, titled Next steps for R&D in Wales – funding, developing collaboration between Welsh HEIs, raising the international profile, and contributing to economic recovery.

This conference will examine next steps for R&D and international research partnerships in Wales.

Areas for discussion include:

  • funding – including securing an equitable share for Wales of the UK government’s increased investment in R&D
  • collaboration – improving joint working between universities in Wales, including in knowledge exchange as well as bids for research projects and funding
  • place – ensuring that the benefits of Welsh R&D address regional and local priorities, as well as improving links between researchers, policymakers, businesses and research funders
  • research skills and infrastructure – developing understanding, the evidence base, and strategies for building up assets to underpin a vibrant and effective Welsh R&D system
  • COVID-19 – harnessing R&D for post-pandemic economic and social recovery in Wales
  • Welsh R&D on the world stage – how visibility in the international research landscape can be grown, and next steps for international partnerships

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the Welsh Government; Senedd Cymru; Cadw; the IPO; the FSA; BEIS; Defra; and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory; as well as parliamentary pass-holders from the Plaid Cymru Westminster Group.

Julia’s ttttalk is titled ‘The central role of R&D in delivering a green recovery’, and will be taking a look at how research can underpin the economic recovery in Wales.

Keynote speakes include Professor Graeme Reid – Chair, Science and Research Policy, University College London and Author, Review of Government Funded Research and Innovation in Wales – and Professor Julie Lydon – Vice-Chancellor, University of South Wales and Chair, Universities Wales.

You can purchase tickets to the event and get more details at event website below:


Small Nation, Big Ideas – COP26 EOI

The network has put forward a case for showcasing leading science from across the Welsh research institutions on a global stage. You can now download the full document.

March has been off to a busy start for the network.

We would like to welcome the new network manager, Rhys Bowley, who has joined the team this month. Rhys comes from a background in product and project management, working as both part of and partner to academic research projects in engineering for most of his career.

The first output of this new phase for the network has been to submit an Expression of Interest outlining what the network would like to exhibit at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, November 2021. We want to extend our thanks for all the amazing contributions that went into the proposal, which resulted in a compelling portfolio of excellent research from across Wales. You can view and download the full document in Welsh and English using the button below.

We’re Back!… Rebooting the Network

The Sêr Cymru Low Carbon Energy and Environment Research Network Wales is back under way once more, with new funding and a new ambition.

Exciting work is underway to carry the network forward into a new phase!

The original network ran from 2013 to 2019, helping researchers leverage over £33 million of competitive funding for Welsh institutions. The network is starting up again with a new scope under the leadership of Prof Julia P. G. Jones. The second phase is being supported by Sêr Cymru II, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, through the Welsh Government.

In a recent press release Professor Jones said “I am delighted to be leading this vitally important research network which is tackling some of the most important challenges faced by our planet. The work done during the first phase shows how world-leading environmental science here in Wales is, and I’m looking forward to working closely with partner universities, the Welsh Government and other stakeholders in taking the network forward.”

You can read the full press release here.

Starting up today on March 1st 2021, is an excellent time to turn our attention to the major events coming up in year. With only a few days between the network restarting and the deadline for submissions, the first action of this new phase will be to submit an Expression of Interest outlining what the network would like to exhibit at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, November 2021. Deadlines for EOIs are March 5th, with responses due in May.