UK to launch first stage of £246m battery storage challenge

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark is to launch the first phase of a £246 million investment into battery technology today. The four-year investment round, dubbed the Faraday Challenge, will […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark is to launch the first phase of a £246 million investment into battery technology today.

The four-year investment round, dubbed the Faraday Challenge, will deliver a programme of competitions that aim to boost the research and development of expertise in battery storage.

An Advisory Board – chaired by Professor Richard Parry-Jones – will be established “to ensure the coherence and impact of the challenge”.

The competitions will be divided into three streams – research, innovation and scale up.

The first element worth £45 million will be led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to create a Battery Institute, with the most promising research completed by the Institute moved closer to market through industrial collaborations led by Innovate UK.

The Advanced Propulsion Centre will work with the automotive sector to identify the best proposition for a new open access national Battery Manufacturing Development facility.

The announcement is part of Theresa May’s Industrial Strategy, with a three-month consultation launched earlier this year attracting more than 1,900 written responses.

Mr Clark, who will be giving a keynote speech at an event in Birmingham today, is expected to say: “Economists have pointed to what they have called a productivity puzzle in Britain. That we appear to generate less value for our efforts than, say, people in Germany or France. In other words, we have to work longer to get the same rewards.

“It’s not that we want – or need – people to work longer hours. It’s that we need to ensure that we find and seize opportunities to work more productively – as a country, as cities and regions, as businesses and as individuals. If we can do so, we can increase the earning power of our country and our people.”

He will add the Industrial Strategy will bring together concerted effort on areas of opportunity that have previously been in different sectors or which require joining forces between entrepreneurs, scientists and researchers, industries and local and national government.

Mr Clark will say: “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.”

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC Chief Executive said: “Batteries will form a cornerstone of a low carbon economy, whether in cars, aircraft, consumer electronics, district or grid storage. To deliver the UK’s low carbon economy, we must consolidate and grow our capabilities in novel battery technology.”

Energy savings

In a separate announcement, Ofgem is expected to outline plans for people across the UK to generate and store their own electricity to help reduce bills.

The regulator previously said a wealth of innovative technologies and services, including the use of batteries in homes, businesses and networks, could deliver “substantial savings”.

It added consumers could save between £17 billion and £40 billion by 2050 with the development of a “smarter, more flexible and user-friendly energy system”.

The government has also set out plans with Ofgem to encourage consumers to generate, store and use their own energy by removing barriers to battery storage technologies and help reduce bills.