UK government publishes battery strategy

Article by Kerry Hebden

THE UK government’s ambition to have a globally competitive battery supply chain by 2030 has been bolstered by the publication of the UK Battery Strategy.

Published alongside the Advanced Manufacturing Plan, it is designed to capitalise on a UK battery manufacturing capacity forecast to reach over 100 GWh in 2030. The strategy seeks to aid businesses via a pathway the government calls a DESIGN-BUILD-SUSTAIN approach. That is, to aid businesses in the design and development of future batteries, enhance the robustness of manufacturing supply chains, and facilitate the growth of a circular economy in the industry.  

The strategy was developed with the UK Battery Strategy Taskforce, and sets out 15 action points, including: utilising previously announced funding of £2bn (US$2.5bn) from 2025 to 2030 to support the manufacture, supply chain, and development of zero emissions vehicles and batteries; to ensure that manufacturing skills training and education is well supported; to invest £11m for 20 competition winners developing technologies across the battery value chain in areas such as artificial intelligence; and to apportion £12m to help build the Advanced Materials Battery Industrialisation Centre (AMBIC). 

AMBIC will be built from funds awarded by the Faraday Battery Challenge, and will be dual located at Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), and CPI at NETPark (North East Technology Park), in County Durham, to bridge the gap between laboratory research and commercial production. WMG is an applied research and education department at the University of Warwick, and a High Value Manufacturing Catapult, one of seven leading research centres across the country. 

Thomas Bartlett, challenge deputy director for the Faraday Battery Challenge, said: “AMBIC will bring together two emerging regions of battery innovation and manufacturing; the North East and Midlands, under one facility to de-risk and accelerate battery materials scaleup in the UK.” He continued: “With AMBIC and previous investments in cell, module, and pack scaleup at UKBIC and R&D in the wider ecosystem, the UK will now be in a position to support businesses from “powder to pack” and from lab to commercial scales.” 

An additional £38m is also being made available to enhance the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) development facilities. The monies are being provided by UK Research and Innovation, as part of the UK government’s £610m Faraday Battery Challenge (FBC), and it builds upon the £36m already committed by FBC in May.  

Work has already started on the construction of a new 320 m2 battery laboratory space that will be four times the size of the facility’s existing testing laboratory. Due to come online during 2024, the laboratory will enable customer materials, and cells manufactured and developed on site to be analysed and tested in real time. 

Sean Gilgunn, UKBIC’s managing director, said: “This latest funding announcement is fantastic news for UKBIC and the battery industry. The investment in the new equipment and capability will mean that many more customers will be able to use the facility to seamlessly develop battery manufacturing through to large-scale demonstration. The added introduction of digital manufacturing at the facility will provide customers with an even better data-driven understanding of their manufacturing processes, a capability which customers will increasingly expect as the industry evolves.”

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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