Business secretary Greg Clark, pictured in a self-driving pod at an industry event, said the UK was a leader in automotive energy © PA Wire/PA Images
Business secretary Greg Clark, pictured in a self-driving pod at an industry event, said the UK was a leader in automotive energy © PA Wire/PA Images

Government pumps £246m into electric battery tech

24 July 2017

The government plans to “establish the UK as a world leader” in battery technology for electric cars with a £246m investment.

The first phase of the four-year investment, known as the Faraday Challenge competition, is the £45m ‘Battery Institute’ challenge. The government will establish a centre for battery research to make technology more accessible and affordable.

The Faraday Challenge is split into three streams – research, innovation and scale-up – with each step designed to drive the research into a successful market-ready technology.

The most promising research created by the Battery Institute will be moved closer to market through industrial collaborations led by the government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

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.

Greg Clark, business secretary, hopes that success will increase the earning power of the country and its people.

“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,” said Clark.

The government and Ofgem are expected to set out a plan today to ensure the UK’s energy system is ready to handle the anticipated rise in electric car sales. BEIS commented that more than a quarter of the UK’s electricity is generated by renewables and the costs of battery storage are falling rapidly. This offers serious opportunities to secure economic gains for businesses and households all over the country.

Energy bills can be kept down with batteries coupled with energy companies’ ability to automatically reduce electricity demand by lowering smart appliances’ output at peak times and when householders are away. 

Professor Philip Nelson, chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, said: “Batteries will form a cornerstone of a low carbon economy, whether in cars, aircraft, consumer electronics, district or grid storage.”

The government hopes that this investment will propel the UK to the forefront as the leading innovator in the electric revolution. However, Japan, China and Korea are currently the biggest producers of car batteries, according to the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

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.

Earlier this year, Japanese carmaker Nissan, power management company Eaton and Manchester City FC partnered in a scheme to produce home energy storage units using recycled electric vehicle batteries.

The system, called xStorage, connects to a residential power supply and will charge up when either renewable energy is available or when energy from the grid is cheap— typically at night, to save customers money on their utility bills, said Nissan.

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