UK launches £246m drive to boost battery innovation

For the record, the first phase of a four-year, £246 million ($315 million) initiative, called the Faraday Challenge, to support the development of innovative battery technology was outlined by the UK government on July 24.

In recognition of the role that energy storage can play in smart energy grids and the falling costs of battery technologies, the initial £45 million phase will include a battery institute that will research, develop and manufacture batteries. The aim is to ensure they are more accessible for residential and business applications.

Michael Phelan, CEO and co-founder of energy aggregator Endeco Technologies, said the generation, storage and use of power at the right time was critical to the future of the nation’s electricity network.

“Incentivizing these actions is a positive step, given the continued electrification of our lives, whether it’s cars, heating, air conditioning or entertainment systems,” he said.

“Batteries sit at the core of our future network, creating flexibility in when electricity is generated and where it is used — when previously this has not been possible.”

The plan, detailed in a report Upgrading Our Energy System, is in line with the country’s industrial strategy to develop a decarbonized future to make sure it was fit for the future, according to UK business and energy secretary Greg Clark.

“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,” said Richard Parry-Jones, the new chair of the Faraday Challenge Advisory Board.

The Faraday Challenge is split into three streams — research, innovation and scale-up — before it joins up the three parts to achieve production. The initial competition was led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The government set aside £50million – which has since received an additional £20million — for smart innovation in its 2016 Budget. In April 2017 £246 million was earmarked from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to kick-start the development of disruptive technologies, including designing and manufacturing better batteries for electric vehicles.

Some 25% of the UK’s electricity is delivered from renewable sources.