The government of the UK has selected a site located in the West Midlands for the installation of a new electric vehicle battery manufacturing development facility — with the idea being that the facility will provide the UK with a path towards becoming a major center of development in the sector.
As the electric vehicle sector is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years, the hope of many in the UK’s government and private sector is that the economic future of the union can be secured this way.
As it stands, the UK doesn’t really possess any significant automotive battery manufacturing capacity — which puts the union in an unenviable position if it is intending to benefit from the shift away from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and towards plug-in electric vehicles.
“A partnership between WMG, at the University of Warwick, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Coventry City Council has been awarded £80 million to establish a new National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility (NBMDF),” the University of Warwick writes.
“The announcement was made by The Rt Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, while attending an energy conference on the University of Warwick campus on Wednesday 29th November 2017.”
The UK’s business minister, Greg Clark, commented on the plans for the site: “The new facility … will propel the UK forward in this thriving area, bringing experts from academia and industry together to deliver innovation and R&D that will further enhance the West Midlands’ international reputation as a cluster of automotive excellence.”
As did the region’s mayor, Andy Street, who stated: “If we get this right, we will not only create jobs and establish this industry in our region, but we can also provide a solution for the world to help tackle issues such as congestion and air pollution.”
That’s a good point — the rising air pollution problems of the world are as much a part of the need to transition away from ICE vehicles and towards plug-in electric vehicles as is the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Here are more hopes and details from the University of Warwick press release:
The new national facility will be established in the Coventry and Warwickshire area by WMG, the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP and Coventry City Council and it will enable UK based companies and researchers to come together to build and maintain a world leading position in manufacturing technologies for batteries and their components in vehicles and transportation. It will provide a crucial new strategic link between the research, development and full-scale industrialisation for battery technologies across the UK.
It will enable effective partnerships between manufacturers, researchers, and economic development leaders, while remaining independent from commercial interests and it will be governed with transparency.
The facility will assist manufacturers and boost the future vehicle and transportation electrification industry by leading innovation, enabling the creation of products with performance ahead of international benchmarks speeding market entry, enabling rapid growth, and acting as a magnet for inward investment in the key technologies. It will also significantly scale up UK skills capacity in this area. Skilled employees are the critical resource for sustainable and competitive manufacturing of batteries in the UK and through the NBMDF a learning facility will be created to train the future skills base in all elements of battery manufacturing.
The new National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility will enable the development of the next generation of battery systems across battery chemistry, electrodes, cell design, module and pack levels. It will have a central location in the Coventry and Warwickshire area providing excellent transport links and is near to established automotive supply chains.
WMG has been working for 15 years with industry to develop and prove new battery technologies. More recently they have been working through the APC Spoke, the National Battery Scale Up facility and the Energy Research Accelerator. It has vast array of research projects already underway looking at everything from new battery technologies, how to scale up battery manufacturing and even a project exploring how to recycle and reuse such batteries.