The government has outlined how it will facilitate the growth of a domestic battery supply chain with its ‘UK Battery Strategy’ paper.
The release yesterday (26 November) comes at a time in which the EU and the US press ahead with plans to support their own battery industries. Demand for batteries, mainly lithium-ion, is booming globally with the electrification of society and all three regions want to reduce their reliance on China and wider East Asia, which dominate production today.
The government therefore aims for the UK to “have a globally competitive battery supply chain that supports economic prosperity and the net zero transition”, it said in its UK Battery Strategy paper, however, no specific targets were outlined.
Policy support and additional funding
The meat of the document is 15 measures or ‘policy options’ to deliver on this aim. The most notable is over £2 billion of new capital and R&D funding for five years to 2030 for electric vehicles (EVs), batteries and their supply chains. It also wishes to: “Provide sustained, consistent, and targeted support for large-scale, long-term research and innovation activities” across the battery supply chain.
It will also provide £61 million specifically in battery R&D through three channels: the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, the Advanced Materials Battery Industrialisation Centre, and 20 competition winners developing technologies across the battery value chain.
The measures include: “new financial mechanisms to support start-ups”, “expand market access for the trade of critical minerals”, “create an environment that is welcoming to foreign investment” and “influence and adopt international standards for reuse, repurposing, and recycling.”
Battery manufacturing is already set to share some of a £960 million package for clean energy the government announced last week, covered by our sister site Solar Power Portal.
Figures from across the UK’s battery supply chain, from critical material sourcing companies to end-users, had mixed reactions to the UK Battery Strategy.
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO at Cornish Lithium, said: “The newly published ‘Battery Strategy’ is a major step forward for the UK battery and associated Critical Minerals strategy. It clearly identifies the opportunities to be had by becoming a world leader in this vital rapidly developing area of industry and manufacturing. The document also recognises the peril that awaits the UK if we ignore this opportunity – given the implications for the economy and for defence.”
However, James Frith, European head for battery-focused venture capital (VC) firm Volta Energy, said it: “represents only a fraction of the capital that other Western governments are putting into developing their own battery industries.
“Therefore, while a comprehensive strategy is much needed and the additional funding announced today will boost confidence in the UK’s commitment to the sector, the government needs to continue to work with industry and investors to make sure that the sector grows and is at the forefront of technical