Zero Emissions: UK launches £25m competition for green battery tech

Zero Emissions: UK launches £25m competition for green battery tech

The British government has launched a £25 million funding competition to develop new battery technologies for next-gen electric vehicles.

Announced today and opening on 17 September, the competition is designed to support business-led R&D to improve batteries for automotive applications.

The government is making £23 million available for industrial research and development programmes, and up to £2 million for feasibility studies.

Funding is provided by UK Research and Innovation and delivered by Innovate UK. The deadline for applications is 12 December 2018.

The small print

The competition is open to UK-based firms and research/technology organisations, either working solo or in partnership with other businesses, academic institutions, charities, research groups, or public sector bodies.

Projects can have total costs of between £500,000 and £15 million and last three to 18 months for research funding, and three to 12 months for feasibility funds.

To qualify, projects should aim to make it easier to scale up battery production and use, and build the UK supply chain. In addition, they should address technical and commercial challenges, including:

  • reducing costs at cell and pack level, and minimising manufacturing costs
  • increasing the energy density per cell
  • increasing the power density per pack
  • eliminating thermal runaway risks to enhance safety
  • lengthening cell and pack life in first-life applications
  • broadening the temperature ranges that a pack can efficiently operate at
  • creating new models to predict range and battery health
  • improving recyclability, including design, reuse and recycling, towards 95 percent pack recyclability.

“Ideas that bring new investment and businesses to the UK and have the potential to increase productivity, competitiveness, and growth are particularly encouraged,” said this morning’s announcement.

Businesses could secure up to 70 percent of their eligible project costs from the competition, said the government.

Zero emission transport

The news came as day two of the UK’s Zero Emission Vehicle Summit kicked off in Buckinghamshire.

On day one in Birmingham yesterday, prime minister Theresa May announced £106 million of public funds for projects developing green battery, vehicle, and refuelling technologies.

That central investment will be backed by £500 million in investment from industry, she said.

On Monday, the government also announced £2 million in new funding to support the uptake of electric bikes for last-mile delivery in towns and cities.

The battery competition announced today is part of a separate public initiative: the Faraday battery challenge, a £246 million investment programme to support the development of new technology in this field.

By focusing on power sources for the automotive sector, the challenge will help the UK to realise its commitment to move to full electrification and zero-emission vehicles, said the government.

Internet of Business says

The two-day Zero Emission Vehicle Summit this week has brought together ministers, industry leaders, and others to tackle the challenge of reducing carbon emissions.

At the event, the government unveiled a new international declaration, designed to pave the way to the worldwide deployment of green vehicles and zero-emission infrastructures.

The first signatories to the ‘Birmingham Declaration’ include Italy, France, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Belarus, and Indonesia, with more nations in talks to sign up.

The Declaration will form the basis of increasing international engagement at climate conferences, said the government.

Over the past two years, the UK has made good progress in setting out a new technology-centric vision, with the Industrial Strategy, new Sector Deals for robotics, AI, and other technologies, the new Office for AI, the Grand Challenges, new centres for data ethics, and more – including its Road to Zero emissions strategy.

So it’s unfortunate that this positive message is being drowned out by the lack of clarity (and growing party infighting) about Britain’s future outside of the EU.

As a result, much of the opportunity to inspire citizens with the revitalised industrial strategy is being lost on a public that remains in thrall to negative newspaper coverage of robots, AI, and drones.

Chris Middleton
Chris Middleton is the editor of Internet of Business, and specialises in robotics, AI, the IoT, blockchain, and technology strategy. He is former editor of Computing, Computer Business Review, and Professional Outsourcing, among others, and is a contributing editor to Diginomica, Computing, and Hack & Craft News. Over the years, he has also written for Computer Weekly, The Guardian, The Times, PC World, I-CIO, V3, The Inquirer, and Blockchain News, among many others. He is an acknowledged robotics expert who has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITN, and Talk Radio, and is probably the only tech journalist in the UK to own a number of humanoid robots, which he hires out to events, exhibitions, universities, and schools. Chris has also chaired conferences on robotics, AI, digital marketing, and space exploration, and spoken at numerous other events.