UK government backs national battery facility to tune of £80m

The U.K. government has loosened its purse strings once more for the nation’s nascent battery storage industry, investing £80 million (US$110 million) for the creation of a new national battery facility that will be located at the University of Warwick in the Midlands.

The facility will be created via a partnership between the university – which is home to WMG, a world-leading research and education group – the local Coventry City Council, and the Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The program is part of the government’s £246 million drive to boost battery knowledge, R&D and development in the U.K., and follows a £65 million investment in the Faraday Institution, which will focus exclusively on researching energy storage technologies at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

This new facility, called the National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility (NBMDF) was announced by secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS), Greg Clark today, who confirmed that its chief role will be to enable U.K.-based companies and researchers to collaborate on building and maintaining a world-leading position in battery technology.

The aim of the NBMDF is to provide a crucial strategic link between R&D, development and full-scale industrialization of battery technologies across the U.K. Areas of focus will include boosting electric vehicle (EV) deployment through innovation, speeding up market entry of new chemistries, and funding education and training to bolster the U.K.’s skillset.

“We are delighted to have been successful in the bid to create this new national battery facility here in the Midlands,” said WMG chairman Professor Lord Bhattacharyya. “Working with industry and the supply chain we will develop and expand battery R&D which will see the creation of skilled jobs and developments within the automotive sector.”

Greg Clark added that battery technology is one of the most “game-changing forms of energy innovation” and forms a cornerstone of the government’s ambitions via its Industrial Strategy and Faraday Challenge.

“The new facility, based in Coventry and Warwickshire, will propel the UK forward in this thriving area, bringing experts 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,” Clark said.

Solar’s role in expediting the growth and excitement around storage has been pivotal. There are now close to one million rooftops in the U.K. with solar panels installed that could potentially adopt battery storage, while at the ground-mount scale Anesco has recently begun collocating storage solutions at large-scale PV plants in order to achieve subsidy-free installation status.