UK aims for world leadership in battery tech
UK business secretary Greg Clark appears on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show (Photo: BBC)

UK aims for world leadership in battery tech

The UK is looking to become a world leader and boost its expertise in battery technology through a new £246 million investment scheme announced this week.

UK business and energy secretary Greg Clark announced the launch of the Faraday Challenge, which will last four years, during a keynote speech in Birmingham.

A world leader

With the scheme, the government hopes that the UK will build on its strengths in energy storage to become a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.

This program is a key part of the government’s industrial strategy, and over the next few years, it is promising to deliver a range of coordinated competitions to boost research and development in this field.

An overarching advisory board is to be set up to ensure that the challenge is a success and that its goals are met. This will be chaired by Professor Richard Parry-Jones, a senior engineering leader with decades of senior automotive industry experience, having served in a variety of positions at Ford.

The first phase

The first phase of the program will be a competition led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with the aim of bringing the best talent and organisations together to establish a battery institute.

As designing and manufacturing battery technology can be expensive for companies, the £45 million Battery Institute’s job will be to research ways this tech can be made more accessible and affordable.

Other areas

A plethora of other competitions will soon follow, all of which are to be divided into three areas: research, innovation and scale-up. The aim here is to turn the UK’s research in battery technology into market-ready products that can contribute massively to the British economy.

In the research segment, the scheme will support research and training in battery materials, technologies and manufacturing processes. A consortium of universities will be involved here.

For innovation, this research will be moved closer to the buying public, as a result of collaborative research and development competitions led by Innovate UK.

Meanwhile, the scale-up area will develop the real-world use and application of battery technology developed in the UK. A competition has already been opened by the Advanced Propulsion Center.

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Powering the world

Announcing the investment, Mr Clark said: “The most promising research completed by the Institute will be moved closer to the market through industrial collaborations led by Innovate UK.

“And the Advanced Propulsion Centre will work with the automotive sector to identify the best proposition for a new state-of-the-art open access National Battery Manufacturing Development facility.

“The work that we do through the Faraday Challenge will – quite literally – power the automotive and energy revolution where, already, the UK is leading the world.”

Ruth McKernan, chief executive of Innovate UK, the UK government’s innovation arm, added: “By any scale, the Faraday Challenge is a game-changing investment in the UK and will make people around the globe take notice of what the UK is doing in terms of battery development for the automotive sector.

“The competitions opening this week present huge opportunities for UK businesses, helping to generate further jobs and growth in the UK’s low carbon economy.”

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The RT Honourable Greg Clark MP will be delivering the keynote at this year’s Battery & Energy Storage event in November. To find out more about the event, click here.