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New battery manufacturing facility to be based in the West Midlands
Coventry is to be the home of the new National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility (NBMDF), which is being developed with £80mn of government funding to help establish the UK as a world leader in battery technology and innovation. The initiative is part of the government’s £246mn investment in battery technology, the announced this summer.
Once built, the new centre will grow the West Midlands’ reputation for automotive expertise and R&D, with a facility that will host cutting-edge production and assembly processes and support the future scale-up of battery technologies, says the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark confirmed that the area had won the national competition, led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), for the new centre, following a successful bid by a consortium led by Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and including the Warwick Manufacturing Group.
The NBMDF will be responsible for turning the most promising early and mid-stage battery research and development activities into scalable business propositions that are commercially viable, while also providing a learning environment to enable training and skills development, added BEIS. The new centre will be an independent facility that is openly accessible to UK-based companies wishing to develop battery technologies.
Clark said: ‘Battery technology is one of the most game-changing forms of energy innovation and it is one of the cornerstones of our ambition, through the and the Faraday Challenge, to ensure that the UK leads the world, and reaps the economic benefits, in the global transition to a low carbon economy. The new facility, based in Coventry and Warwickshire, will propel the UK forward in this thriving area, bringing together the best minds from academia and industry together to deliver innovation and R&D.’
Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), said: ‘If the UK wants to stay competitive and make domestic electric vehicle manufacturing viable in the long run, a high level of ambition is required as set out in the Industrial Strategy. JLR is already investing heavily to make the vision of autonomous and electric mobility come true. From 2020, all of our new vehicles will be electrified with Mild Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid and Battery Electric solutions, and these are already being designed in the West Midlands. We also intend to produce battery electric vehicles in the region, bringing the West Midlands to the forefront of modern mobility in the UK.’
Clark also announced the winners of £40mn of additional Faraday Battery Challenge investment to be allocated through Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund innovation competitions. Some 27 projects are being funded, involving 66 organisations, covering technologies such as the development of battery materials and cell manufacturing, design and production of modules and packs, and recyclability of battery packs.
Commenting on the announcements, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association James Court sounded a note of caution: ‘The details of this Battery Manufacturing Institute and Faraday Challenge winners, as well as the wider funding programme, are positive steps in the establishment of strong energy storage and electric vehicle markets in the UK. Supporting research and development, however, comprises only half of the ingredients needed to create new manufacturing opportunities – government also needs to support the creation of markets for battery products.’