UK Looks To Battery Storage With £246 Million Investment In Landmark “Faraday Challenge”

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The UK’s Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, announced on Monday the launch of the country’s Industrial Strategy’s landmark “Faraday Challenge,” a 4 year, £246 million investment round intended to boost both research and development of expertise in battery technology.

Speaking in a keynote speech on the UK Industrial Strategy, Secretary Clark launched the Faraday Challenge, a move which is intended to make the United Kingdom a global leader in battery storage technical expertise. The government will commit £246 million over 4 years, starting with the launch of a £45 million “Battery Institute” competitive to establish a centre for battery research, itself aimed at making battery technology more accessible and more affordable.

“Joining together the research, development, application and manufacture of energy storage technologies — and specifically battery storage — is a huge opportunity for the energy sector and the automotive sector alike,” Secretary Greg Clark said in his speech at the University of Birmingham. “So as part of our Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund I am today launching the Faraday Challenge, which will put £246 million into research, innovation and scale-up of battery technology.

“The first element will be a competition led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to bring the best minds and facilities together to create a Battery Institute.”

Specifically, the Faraday Challenge will be divided up into three separate streams — research, innovation, and scale-up — each designed to drive what the UK Government is calling a “step-change in translating the UK’s world-leading research into market-ready technology that ensures economic success for the UK.” The three streams will look like this:

  • 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 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,” Secretary Clark said.

Unsurprisingly, the news was warmly welcomed by the country’s renewable energy industries.

“Today is the starting gun for the UK to become the world-leader in innovative battery storage technologies,” said the RenewableUK’s Executive Director, Emma Pinchbeck. “The energy sector agrees that a clean, flexible and modern energy system is the future, a future which relies on a clear vision from Government, working in partnership with businesses.

“Renewables are a mainstream technology, reliably providing over 25% of our electricity. The advent of battery storage is the missing puzzle piece which will allow us to maximise the potential of our world-beating renewable energy resources here in the UK.”

“The global market is quickly moving towards a decentralised model, relying less on large fossil generation and more on flexible and increasingly cheap renewable sources,” added James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association. “More energy storage empowers this and will lead to a lower cost, lower carbon energy system that will benefit households and businesses across the country.

“The launch of a battery institute will help guide next-generation storage technologies through the hazards that lay between a good idea in a lab and actual deployment in homes and on solar farms.”

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Joshua S Hill

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