The UK and Europe must develop a robust battery manufacturing industry so it doesn’t fall behind the rest of the world, says lithium-ion gigafactory developer Britishvolt’s chief strategy officer Isobel Sheldon.
Sheldon said it’s imperative the UK builds its own battery industry to develop initiatives previously introduced in Europe to create a lithium-ion battery industry autonomous from China and Asia.
Sheldon, who joined Britishvolt in June and is and head of its Advisory Board, told BEST: “Within the automotive industry supply chain it’s essential that we make batteries in the same region as we make cars, so this demand will have to be fulfilled.
“It’s important that Europe, and the UK specifically, regains leadership in lithium-ion battery technologies.
“If we fail, we fall behind. At the moment Asian batteries are dominant but it’s essential for the future of the UK economy that we do not have to rely on imported technology to realise our ambitions.”
Sheldon’s comments came in an interview with BEST for the Autumn edition of magazine. Subscribe HERE to receive the magazine for the full article
Then there are trade issues: what would happen if a high import tax is placed on batteries; and what will the economic implications of Brexit be?
“It could make Britain uncompetitive in this field,” Sheldon says. “All of which points to the strategic imperative of the UK producing its own technologies.”
Sheldon is part of a team aiming to develop the UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory in Wales alongside the firm’s CEO and founder Orral Nadjari.
When completed, the £2.4 billion ($3 billion) plant will boast 30GWh of manufacturing capacity, with building work being staggered over three stages.
The company aims to produce lithium-ion cylindrical and pouch cells during the first £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) stage, which could potentially be up and running as early as 2023. The final 10GWh of capacity, due to come on stream in 2027, is reserved for ‘over the horizon’ technology developments.
Last year, a new batteries research and innovation forum— the Batteries Europe Platform— was launched by European Union energy chief Maroš Šefčovič.
It followed a commitment the previous year to earmark additional cash at projects that support plans for an EU-wide battery cell manufacturing industry to compete with Asia.
Also in 2019, a science and technology initiative was launched to “invent the batteries of the future” in Europe and identify the “most promising lithium-ion and post-lithium-ion technologies” within the next decade.
In 2018, Germany has pledged to pump €1billion ($1.1billion) into promoting battery cell production by 2021— with the aim of German and European producers “supplying 30% of global demand” by 2030.
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