Business and energy secretary Greg Clark has announced that Coventry and Warwickshire will be the home of the new National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility (NMDF).
The facility will receive £80m of funding from the government’s £246m investment programme for battery technology – the Faraday Battery Challenge.
A part of the Automotive Sector Deal, the new centre will build on the West Midlands reputation as a locus of automotive expertise and research and development (R&D).
The facility 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. The centre will be an independent facility that is openly accessible to UK-based companies wishing to develop battery technologies.
In a speech to the Battery and Energy Storage Conference, Greg 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 Industrial Strategy 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 that will further enhance the West Midlands international reputation as a cluster of automotive excellence.”
The funding for the new centre follows a national competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). The successful bid was made by a consortium led by Coventry and Warwickshire LEP and including Warwick Manufacturing Group.
Lord Bhattacharyya, chairman of Warwick Manufacturing Group, said: “This will be an openly accessible centre of real impact, working coherently with the application-inspired fundamental research emerging from Faraday Institution and ensuring the transfer of technology takes place at scale to support the industrialisation of batteries in the UK.”
Coventry City Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration and CWLEP board director, said: “Car manufacturing provided a secure, well paid job for thousands of Coventry people, including me. And now battery development has the potential to do the same for a whole new generation of Coventry people. I hope battery development will create thousands of new jobs and if there is one thing we know for certain, it’s that having a job changes lives. That’s the real reason this is such good news. And Coventry of course is the perfect choice. We have a rich heritage in motor vehicle manufacture and it’s only right that we will once again lead the way with this pioneering new technology.
“Clean air vehicles and autonomous cars are the future and now the centre of excellence will be here right where it belongs. It’s the public sector, industry and education working together that has got us to this point today but now it’s time for the real work to begin.”
Speaking for the car industry, Dr Ralf Speth, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “If the UK wants to stay competitive and make domestic EV 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.”
Faraday Challenge winners
The business secretary also announced the winners of £40m of additional Faraday Battery Challenge investment, allocated through Innovate UK led Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund innovation competitions.
The 27 projects being funded cover key technologies such as the development of battery materials and cell manufacturing, design and production of modules and packs including advances in thermal management and battery management systems, and recycling and recyclability of battery packs.
Innovate UK chief executive Ruth McKernan said: “The Faraday Battery Challenge is breaking new ground because it offers for the first time a co-ordinated programme of competitions across research, innovation and scale-up. It will therefore draw the very best of the UK’s world-leading research into commercial technologies and put UK businesses at the forefront of electric vehicle battery development.
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