The UK government has launched the first phase of a £246m investment in battery technology in the form of the Faraday Challenge as part of the country’s modern Industrial Strategy.

Business Secretary Greg Clark announced the launch of the 4-year investment round, Faraday Challenge which is aimed at enhancing expertise in battery technology in the UK.

An important part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, the Faraday Challenge will bring about a coordinated programme of competitions relating to the research and development in battery technology.

The investment is to ensure that the UK consolidates on its strengths to emerge as a leader in the design, development and manufacturing of electric batteries.

According to the government, the Faraday Challenge competitions have been divided into research, innovation and scale-up streams.

For the research stream, the government has created a £45m contest which is led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It is expected to bring the best minds and facilities under one fold to form a virtual Battery Institute.

As per the government, the most promising research coming out of the virtual Battery Institute will be taken closer to the market via collaborative research and development contests that will be led by Innovate UK.

The early round of competitions will consolidate on the best of current world-leading science available already in the country and make the technology more accessible for UK businesses.

In the scale-up stream, the government has created a contest to advance the real-world use and application of battery technology. The contest will be led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre to select the best proposal for a new open access National Battery Manufacturing Development facility.

RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Today is the starting gun for the UK to become the world-leader in innovative battery storage technologies. The energy sector agrees that a clean, flexible and modern energy system is the future, a future which relies on a clear vision from Government, working in partnership with businesses.

“Renewables are a mainstream technology, reliably providing over 25% of our electricity. The advent of battery storage is the missing puzzle piece which will allow us to maximise the potential of our world-beating renewable energy resources here in the UK”.

Schneider Electric energy segment manager Darren Farrar said: “Within the next 15 years, the UK is expected to lose 39GW of generating capacity due to the government’s continuing programme of coal and nuclear power plant decommissioning. To meet this capacity challenge, providers and policy-makers across the globe are having to think outside the box. This is why excitement is building around the potential of battery storage."

Image: Business Secretary Greg Clark launched the £246m Faraday Challenge. Photo: courtesy of Crown copyright.