Leading the switch to Net Zero industry

New SWITCH Harbourside facility to support green economy.

Neath Port Talbot Council recently announced the appointment of contractors Morgan Sindall Construction to design and build SWITCH Harbourside, a new £20m facility in Neath Port Talbot backed by the Swansea Bay City Deal.

SWITCH Harbourside will showcase what can be achieved in a net zero future, both in its purpose and its design.

It will be a purpose-built space in the heart of the Swansea Bay region and a physical focal point for SWITCH, Wales’ Net Zero Accelerator: a place where collaborators can meet and develop projects and ideas.


Heart of Swansea University’s work with steel industry

Located close to Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant, SWITCH Harbourside will be the new purpose-built home for Swansea University’s Steel and Metals Institute (SaMI).

SaMI provides unique and essential facilities for research into breakthrough technologies to address industrial decarbonisation and net zero manufacturing and materials.

SaMI’s capabilities include simulating industry processes on the lab scale and process simulation, asset integrity testing and compositional analysis of materials at very high temperatures in reactive gas atmospheres.

Their work with the industry aims to improve competitiveness by increasing product capability, reducing carbon emissions and using scrap and other societal waste more effectively in the production of metals.

The new facility will enable the institute to strengthen collaboration between industry and academia and accelerate the adoption of improved products and processes.


Sustainable building design

The design of SWITCH Harbourside will include sustainable energy technologies and control systems, informed by the research and experience of SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University.

Over the last decade, SPECIFIC has pioneered and developed the low carbon Active Building design principle, which adopts six principles including the use of on-site renewable energy generation coupled with intelligent integration with transport and grid networks.


Skills for a greener industry

Skills development is an important and vital part of SWITCH Harbourside.

The facility will be used to support training programmes such as the Materials and Manufacturing Academy in the provision of training for masters and PhD applied students, and N0W Skills for improving technical skills and awareness of the decarbonisation agenda amongst the industrial workforce.


Open access facility for low carbon growth

As an open-access facility, it will also provide access to knowledge and equipment for a wider collaborative network of expertise across academia, industry and government.

The building forms part of the City Deal supporting innovation and low carbon growth programme and is aimed at establishing the region as a leader in low carbon growth and the green economy.

The design and construction of SWITCH Harbourside is expected to take 18 months to complete.


Contributor Cat Wilkins, Steel and Metals Institute