A university-led consortium has won £7m ($9m) in UK government funding for a ‘buildings as power stations’ project in India.

The Specific consortium, which includes 12 UK and Indian universities and industrial partners, aims to take a two-stage approach to the project, called Sunrise. First, the universities plan to develop printed solar PV cells and “new manufacturing processes” for solar cell production in India. Next, building-integrated (BIPV) solar systems using the PV cells will be installed in five Indian villages.  

In July, researchers at Specific said they had removed the need for a controlled atmosphere during fabrication of perovskite solar PV cells. The researchers said this development will make the cells easier to manufacture at scale and brings the technology closer to commercial viability.

According to Specific, one advantage of perovskite in solar cells is that it is printable, “which means that solar cells can be applied to building materials such as glass and steel at the point of manufacture”.  

Swansea University in Wales, which leads the Sunrise project, said in a statement that one key aim is to “provide a real-life example which proves that this technology works, and that it is appropriate in these communities.

“The plan is that it will encourage local industries to manufacture affordable prefabricated buildings, adapted for their environment, that can generate, store and release their own power.”

The £7 million award comes from the UK government’s £1.5bn Global Challenges Research Fund, which supports research that addresses the problems faced by developing countries.

According to Swansea University, the ‘buildings as power stations’ concept has been proven through its ‘active classroom’ on-campus, another Specific project. The classroom features perforated steel roof cladding from Tata Steel, a strategic partner in the Sunrise project, with integrated PV cells supplied by a Specific spinoff company, BIPVco. The PV cells are connected to two saltwater batteries from Aquion Energy which can store enough power to operate the building for two days.