How critical will energy innovation be to the future of manufacturing?

Posted on 3 Oct 2018 by Maddy White

Energy innovation, being able to source, store and best utilise energy will dictate the future of many industries, how critical will this be to manufacturing?

Electric cars, low carbon products, renewable energy, storage solutions and lightweight vehicles; energy innovation is increasingly becoming a central discussion point in many sectors, including manufacturing.

From government energy strategies to advanced technologies, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the debates and plans surrounding energy are here to stay.

Recent energy innovations and projects:

200mph electric supercar to be built in the UK

A 200mph electric supercar – dubbed a “British engineering tour de force” – is to be developed and built by new company, Dendrobium Automotive.

Govt invests £35m into low carbon automotive technologies

The Manufacturer spoke to managing director of Artemis Intelligent Power, one of the companies utilising low carbon technologies, Niall Caldwell.

He said: “This project is to support the development of products for the off-highway equipment market, which will save energy, CO2, and it should also make a positive business case to the end consumers simply by saving fuel and therefore money.”

New battery tech could solve renewable energy issues 

Many of today’s everyday batteries are made of lithium, but this is a finite element. Researchers have now found a way of using sodium instead, which they believe will transform the battery industry.

Lightweight cars: How important are they?

The main benefit of introducing lightweight vehicles is the potential for improved efficiency in electric vehicles and emission reductions.

Heathcoat Fabrics has completed a £3m worth of renewable energy installations across its UK-based factory - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Energy innovation is increasingly becoming a core element of many industries – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

The Manufacturer recently sat down with Tom Brown, who has worked for almost 50 years in industry, to discuss energy.

Brown spoke about how critical energy innovation will be in the future, noting: “Energy will be crucially important for manufacturing. I think from a national point of view we lack a coherent energy strategy, we ricochet from one thing to another, depending on popular political opinion at the time.”

This view aligns with the fractured direction Britain has taken within its energy strategies in the past and present.

From the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project throw out earlier this year, to the continual investment in nuclear power facilities like Hinkley Point C; politics seems to dictate energy direction.

Hinkley Point C “back on track”

The nuclear power station being built in Somerset is on track for its next major milestone, the firm behind it has confirmed earlier this month.

The construction of Hinkley Point C began two years ago after the government signed a deal with French firm EDF and its Chinese partner CGN, and it’s expected to provide 7% of the UK’s electricity needs for 60 years.

If UK manufacturers could utilise energy, it could provide businesses with many bonuses long-term, including a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly strategy and a more self-sustaining model.

Brown explained that manufacturers know they will have to look for other sources of energy and be able to store them efficiently, which they are implementing. But, what is holding them back is a lack of understanding of how to do this, alongside a lack of coherent government policies and support.

Tom Brown’s comments on manufacturing and engineering are further detailed in his recent book: Tragedy & Challenge: An Inside View of UK Engineering’s Decline and the Challenge of the Brexit Economy.

See for yourself how innovative the UK manufacturing sector is at the moment by attending Europe’s largest digital manufacturing event, which showcases the most advanced 4IR technology – Smart Factory Expo.

Last year, the two-day event attracted more than 4,000 industrial decision-makers. This year, we’re on track to host 6,000!

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14 – 15 November | Exhibition Center Liverpool