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New £20 million Centre Will Help Make Metals Industry Low-carbon

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South Wales is set to build on its strength and expertise in steel and metals innovation with the launch of a new £20 million facility to help industry in the region create a low-carbon future. 

Led by Neath Port Talbot Council and key partner Swansea University, the new facility will see academic researchers, government and industry collaborating to deliver practical innovative solutions to decarbonise the steel and metals sector and supply chain.

Switching successfully to a net-zero future is essential for the manufacturing sector. It will not only protect the environment, but also develop the industries and workforce that are so vital to the south Wales economy. The facility offers enormous potential for innovation to strengthen regional decarbonisation activity alongside new business, investment and job opportunities for a future green economy.

Imaging equipment can examine steel at nano scale

The facility is called SWITCH: South Wales Industrial Transition from Carbon Hub. It forms part of the Supporting Innovation and Low Carbon Growth programme, led by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal. The programme will help establish the region as a leader in low carbon growth and the green economy.

Located close to Port Talbot steel works and train station, SWITCH will be an open access facility.  It will provide a purpose-built site and equipment for Swansea University to work with the steel and metals industry to:

  • Develop steel and metal manufacturing processes to reduce carbon emissions
  • Enable the recovery and recycling of materials and by-products in manufacturing
  • Create advanced materials for construction, transport and packaging sectors to support net zero solutions for society.

Swansea University has closely collaborated with industry since its foundation. The steel and metals industry remains at the heart of the south Wales community.

By supporting the industrial transition to net-zero carbon, SWITCH will play a vital role in inclusive economic growth, enabling Welsh industry to remain globally competitive and securing a long-term, sustainable future for the region.

Inside a blast furnace – models help improve energy efficiency

Chris Williams, head of industrial decarbonisation for Industry Wales, who leads the South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC), said: 

“South Wales is built on steel and metals. We have the people, expertise and close collaborative relationships to lead the way to a net-zero carbon future for manufacturing industries across the globe.

Industry has a vital role to play in a more sustainable future. In Wales we have established a strong collaborative approach to innovation. The SWITCH hub will build on this approach, bringing together expertise from industry, academia, and government to provide practical solutions for decarbonisation.

The SWITCH hub will further boost our environmental drive here in Wales, by developing sustainable, competitive ways of manufacturing.”

Cllr Edward Latham, Neath Port Talbot Council Leader, said:  

“The SWITCH project will support the transformation and decarbonisation of our important steel and metals industry, and associated supply chain. It complements Neath Port Talbot Council’s Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy Strategy (DARE).”

Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, said: 

“For Swansea University, successful regional partnerships are as much about supporting the development of people and skills as they are about innovative research. The SWITCH initiative will build upon our one-hundred-year history of purposeful collaboration with industry, to address the challenges of our time and deliver real innovation in Wales.

This new SWITCH hub will further expand our University’s research capabilities to work alongside industry and government, in support of our shared ambition for a net-zero Wales.”