UK to establish itself as world leader in battery technology

The first phase of a £246m government investment into battery technology will be launched today, geared towards ensuring the UK builds on its strengths and leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.

battery technology - The Faraday Challenge is described as a “game changing investment” and will make people around the globe take notice of what the UK is doing in terms of battery development for the automotive sector – image courtesy of Pixabay.
The Faraday Challenge is described as a “game changing investment” and will make people around the globe take notice of what the UK is doing in terms of battery development for the automotive sector – image courtesy of Pixabay.

Due to be announced by Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, the four-year battery technology investment round is one of six key challenge areas identified through the government’s £1bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

Known as the ‘Faraday Challenge’, the funds will deliver a coordinated programme of competitions that will aim to boost both the research and development of expertise in battery technology. It will leverage the combined strength of industries, scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs and local and national government.

An overarching Faraday Challenge Advisory Board will be established to ensure the coherence and impact of the challenge. It is due to be chaired by Professor Richard Parry-Jones, a senior engineering leader with many decades of senior automotive industry experience and recently chaired the UK Automotive Council for six years.

Greg Clark is expected to say: “The first element will be a competition led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [EPSRC] to bring the best minds and facilities together to create a Battery Institute.

“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.”

The Faraday Challenge’s competitions are divided into three streams, designed to drive a step-change in translating the UK’s world-leading research into market-ready technology that ensures economic success for the UK:

  • Research – To support world class research and training in battery materials, technologies and manufacturing processes, the Government has opened a £45m competition, led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), to bring the best minds and facilities together to create a virtual Battery Institute. The successful consortium of universities will be responsible for undertaking research looking to address the key industrial challenges in this area.
  • Innovation – The most promising research completed by the Institute will be moved closer to the market through collaborative research and development competitions, led by Innovate UK. The initial competitions will build on the best of current world-leading science already happening in the UK and helping make the technology more accessible for UK businesses.
  • Scale-up – To further develop the real-world use and application of battery technology the Government has opened a competition, led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre, to identify the best proposition for a new state-of-the-art open access National Battery Manufacturing Development facility.

The government and Ofgem are also expected to set out a plan to ensure the energy system is fit for the future. With more than a quarter of the UK’s electricity being generated through renewables and the costs of technologies like battery storage rapidly, there are significant opportunities to secure economic benefits for businesses and households across the country.

The Business Secretary will also be confirming today the launch of the third Connected Autonomous Vehicles research and development competition, with £25m of funding being made available to new projects.

For the first time the government is making funding available to off-road driverless innovation, with investments earmarked for cutting-edge projects that will grow the commercial potential of off-road driverless technology and develop technologies that will increase productivity and improve mobility in a range of sectors including construction, farming and mining.

Government has already invested more than £100m of R&D funding in over 50 connected and autonomous vehicle projects across the country to help UK businesses and Universities take advantage of the huge commercial opportunities in this area.