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UK government commits £246m to battery ‘revolution’

Four-year investment round is a key part of the Government’s industrial strategy

As part of its modern Industrial Strategy, the UK aims to lead the battery charge
As part of its modern Industrial Strategy, the UK aims to lead the battery charge

UK government has announced the first phase of a £246m investment into battery technology in a bid to position the UK as a world leader in their design, development and manufacture.


Known as the Faraday Challenge, it will include a £45m competition, led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), to set up a centre for battery research to make them more accessible and affordable.


Business and energy secretary Greg Clark will unveil details of the launch today where he will also outline “cutting-edge energy plans” to break down barriers to new technologies and business models.


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,” Clark is expected to say.


Today’s announcement follows a review commissioned as part of the industrial strategy green paper, by Sir Mark Walport in which he identified areas where the UK had strengths in battery technology and could benefit from linkage through this challenge fund.


“Batteries will form a cornerstone of a low carbon economy, whether in cars, aircraft, consumer electronics, district or grid storage,” said professor Philip Nelson, chief executive of the EPSRC.


“To deliver the UK’s low carbon economy we must consolidate and grow our capabilities in novel battery technology. EPSRC’s previous research investments mean we are in a world-leading position.”


An overarching Faraday Challenge Advisory Board will be established to ensure the coherence and impact of the challenge. The board will 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.


“The power of the Faraday Challenge derives from the joining-up of all three stages of research from the brilliant research in the university base, through innovation in commercial applications to scaling up for production,” said Parry-Jones.


“It will focus our best minds on the critical industrial challenges that are needed to establish the UK as one of the world leaders in advanced battery technologies and associated manufacturing capability.


The Faraday Challenge’s competitions are divided into three streams – research, innovation and scale-up – 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.


“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,” added Ruth McKernan, chief executive, Innovate UK.


“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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