Car battery being replaced

Government to create Battery Institute for energy storage technologies

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The government is due to launch a £246m investment into the development of new battery technology, beginning with the ‘Faraday Challenge’, as part of its industrial strategy.

A three-month consultation attracting more than 1900 written responses from businesses and other organisations influenced the new strategy, which was published in January 2017. The strategy aims to develop key industries as Britain prepares to exit the European Union, to boost productivity, and to revitalise areas of the country – such as cities in the North of England – suffering from the decline of traditional manufacturing industries.

Sustained investment in science and research, including harnessing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, is one of ten ‘pillars’ of the government strategy.

At a meeting in Birmingham today, Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will outline the government’s plans for a £246m investment in battery technology, which is expected to benefit the renewable energy and electric vehicles sectors.

The Faraday Challenge will be the first step; a competition to create a centre for energy storage research that will “quite literally power the automotive and energy revolution where, already, the UK is leading the world”, he will say.

“The first element will be a competition led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to bring the best minds and facilities together to create a Battery Institute,” the minister will announce. This will exist to make new battery technology more accessible and affordable.

He will say that the government’s industrial strategy has the potential to “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.”

The Faraday Challenge will cost £45m and last four years. The Faraday Challenge Advisory Board will be chaired by Professor Richard Parry-Jones, former chair of the UK Automotive Council.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, Sir Mark Walport, the government’s chief scientific advisor, wrote that the imperative to tackle climate change creates a need for decarbonised energy generation across different sectors, and that energy storage is a “key technology” for decarbonising transport and, in the long term, optimising renewable energy sources.

Mr Clark is also expected to confirm an extra £25 million investment in the development of connected off-road autonomous vehicles for construction, farming and mining.

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