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Energy secretary Chris Huhne opens new Salford uni research centre

By Nick Rawcliffe

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne unveiled a new research centre for energy and public policy at Salford University this week.

The research centre is housed in the Joule House, the former home of Salfordian physicist James Joule.

Researchers at the centre are currently looking into new ways to make homes more efficient and to combat fuel poverty.

Mr Huhne said: “Keeping homes warm in winter and saving money on energy bills are real life issues for people here in Manchester and up and down the country.”

One of Mr Huhne’s plan is to have all homes in the UK energy efficient by 2050, but a spokesperson for the energy house stated that the Joule House would play a part in this but that help from other areas would be needed.

“This will require action from all levels of government, society and business,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Huhne also said that this achievement by the University will go a long way to helping improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s housing stock.

Within the historic Joule House, researchers have constructed a ‘Coronation Street’ styled terrace house so they can scientifically test the latest windows, doors, insulation and other technologies.

Researchers test each of these against a variety of extreme weather temperatures and other weather conditions, including rain.

A spokesperson for the project said: “The House is unique because it offers a controlled testing environment. 

“Unlike houses built outside, in the Salford House you can recreate the exact weather conditions time after time and in all seasons. 

“This means that products can be more effectively tested.”

Dr Adrian Graves, Deputy Vice-Chancellor said: “The University is establishing a reputation for making a global difference on these crucial issues.”

The University of Salford is highly regarded as being a prominent leader in energy research, following the launch of the energy house earlier this year. 

The University received funding from the European Regional Development Fund, this funding is expected to help the University expand its portfolio of business support activity. 

A spokesperson for the energy house said: “We’ve been working with major companies like British Gas and Kingfisher (who own B&Q) to test products.

“We have been able to hold a major business conference on the back of the project that has attracted over 150 senior people from building, politics and housing among others.”

The portfolio will help Salford University in targeting regional businesses from the fast-growing low carbon and environmental goods and services sector within the region and the project has already helped over 50 businesses across the north-west.

Dr Graves said: “Our research and collaborations with major businesses and numerous community groups on energy efficiency reflects the University’s commitment to environmental research of the highest standard.”

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