Wales is becoming a low-carbon champion
Wales is a leading region in low-carbon, alternative energy initiatives thanks to foresighted policies and programmes complemented by a deep commitment to its stated smart specialisation goals. The country is reinforcing its focus on developing new commercial opportunities for SMEs in this important sector, thanks to the EU-funded SEREN project.
" “SEREN has been instrumental in creating new SMEs and sustaining existing companies in a region with high unemployment. Schemes based on SEREN improve access to affordable energy, create jobs and mitigate environmental impacts.” "
As the first country in the world to incorporate a legal duty relating to sustainable development into its constitution, Wales as a region is a globally recognised low-carbon champion. But translating this commitment into successful low-carbon and green-energy solutions on the ground is a constant challenge.
Led by Cardiff University’s award-winning Geoenvironmental Research Centre, the EU-funded SEREN project has refined and developed practical tools and templates aimed at fast-tracking low-carbon innovations from the lab to the market.
All hands on deck
The project took a hands-on approach to developing new commercial opportunities for micro- and small businesses with fewer resources for research and technological development in the low-carbon and ground-energy sectors. The project worked very closely with these SMEs to help turn their ideas for product and service innovations into viable commercial outcomes, which deliver significant economic benefits while bridging cutting-edge academic research and industry practices.
Cross-cutting themes (CCT) – equal opportunities, gender mainstreaming, sustainable development and tackling poverty and social exclusion – were taken into consideration when channelling efforts into cost-effective outcomes. New templates (Eco-code and E&D-code) were developed for engaging SMEs and helping them reduce their carbon footprint, which other EU regions are now being encouraged to use. UN agencies UNESCO and UNIDO have already shown interest in these tools.
Some 90 SMEs were supported, 111 jobs created, 28 collaborative projects set up and 36 new processes and products developed thanks to this enlightened collaboration with SMEs in the region. SEREN also raised awareness of environmental sustainability and equal opportunities within 80 companies.
The project was designed to complement Wales’ work in the area of smart specialisation at the highest political level. The low-carbon agenda is thus strongly embedded in the region’s smart specialisation efforts, to which SEREN has made a major contribution.
The project’s novel ground-energy schemes are also being used to address critical issues, such as fuel poverty, environmental injustice and social inclusion in deprived areas of Wales, and can be adapted to specific conditions in other European regions.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “SEREN” is EUR 11 836 846, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 6 628 867 through the “East Wales” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.