The UK's Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, has announced the launch of the first phase of a £246 million (US$320 million) government investment into battery technology. Known as the Faraday Challenge, the 4-year investment round will consist of a coordinated program of competitions to boost the research and development of expertise in battery technology.
The Faraday Challenge’s competitions are divided into three streams: research, innovation and scale-up. The £45m research competition will be led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and will begin by creating a Battery Institute. This will consist of a consortium of universities and will address the key industrial challenges in battery development.
The next stage will be led by innovation funding body Innovate UK, which will hold R&D competitions designed to bring the most promising results of the Battery Institute closer to market.
For stage three, a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre will focus on scaling up battery technology. The competition is aimed at finding the best proposal for a new open access National Battery Manufacturing Development facility.
The Faraday Challenge forms one of six key challenge areas that the government, together with business and academia, has identified through its flagship Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) as being one of the UK’s core industrial challenges.
"Batteries will form a cornerstone of a low carbon economy, whether in cars, aircraft, consumer electronics, district or grid storage," said Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "To deliver the UK’s low carbon economy we must consolidate and grow our capabilities in novel battery technology."
The renewable industry largely responded with support. James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association in the UK, stated that the global market is quickly moving toward a decentralized model, "relying less on large fossil generation and more on flexible and increasingly cheap renewable sources. More energy storage empowers this and will lead to a lower cost, lower carbon energy system.”
He added that the launch of a Battery Institute “will help guide next-generation storage technologies through the hazards that lie between a good idea in a lab and actual deployment in homes and on solar farms.”