The UK’s planned National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility (NBMDF) is set to start operations in 2020, BBB can reveal.
Dr Anna Wise, who heads up work on innovative battery developments for the government’s Innovate UK agency, said the facility would bring together the UK’s leading battery industry players and research institutions.
But Wise warned that the industry would need more cash for the battery development than the GBP246 million ($320.8m) of government funding announced last year.
BBB reported at the end of last year that the government had pledged GBP80m of cash to kick start the NBMDF project.
Wise told BBB on the sidelines of last week’s Battery Tech Expo in Telford in the English Midlands: “We’re trying to make the most out of the current investment, but ultimately to grow this industry in the UK we will need more support as we go along.”
Asked about the potential for post-Brexit links with European partners in battery tech research— and EU gigafactory plans— Wise said: “We’re still part of the EU so we’re still part of the conversation in terms of building gigafactories.”
“We’re looking at how the UK and Europe as a whole can bring this industry together, because if ultimately we want to maintain battery manufacturing within Europe, we will need gigafactories across Europe,” Wise said.
However, Wise stressed the UK would be able to put up “strong competition” in the sector whatever the future holds. “We have a real chance to develop a strong industry across the value chain. We’ve got materials development, battery management systems, integration and services, so there’s a huge amount going on here in the UK.”
The UK government said last year the NBMDF would be sited in the Coventry/Warwickshire area and enable partnerships between manufacturers, researchers, and economic development leaders. But the centre would be operated at arms length from commercial interests and governed with “transparency”.
Plans for the facility were announced after seven UK universities were named as members of a consortium to spearhead national research and development of the UK battery industry under the government-backed Faraday Challenge investment programme.