UK Government launches new £246m competition to boost battery technology
Fund will be used to establish a centre for battery research for renewable energy and transport sectors
Greg Clark - image credit: Paul Heartfield
The UK Government has launched the first stage of a new £246m competition aimed at boosting battery technology in the renewable energy and transport sectors.
The funding, which Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark said will be used to establish a centre for battery research, is the first part of the UK Government’s plan for a new industrial strategy.
The £246m fund will be spent over four years on research and innovation in battery technology, with £45m available to make batteries more accessible and affordable.
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Clark said the fund will “quite literally power the automotive and energy revolution where, already, the UK is leading the world”.
Clark said: “Our strategy will create the conditions that boost earning power throughout the country – its people, places and companies.”
“If every part of Britain is to prosper in the future we need to ensure that we have the right policies and institutions in place to drive the productivity – which is to say, the earning power – of the economy, and the people and places that make it up.”
He added: “One of the strengths of an industrial strategy is to be able to bring together concerted effort on areas of opportunity that have previously been in different sectors, or which require joining forces between entrepreneurs, scientists and researchers, industries, and local and national government.”
But James Court, head of policy and external affairs at the Renewable Energy Association called for a change in rules and regulations in light of newly emerging technologies, alongside a greater commitment to renewables.
Meanwhile the SNP welcomed the announcement, it also warned it was “too little - and much too late”.
Drew Hendry, the SNP’s Westminster spokesperson for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “For years the Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats have avoided tackling an energy market that is leaving thousands of families facing fuel poverty, and while the new Industrial strategy must support energy initiatives like this one, it must also tackle inequity in the market.
“Across the UK there are 14 regional markets with different levels of network charges meaning that electricity distribution charges for the north of Scotland are 84 per cent higher than the charges for London and the standard unit price is 2p a kw/hr more than in other parts of the UK.
“People should not be penalised because of where they live or because they don’t have the money to invest in technology.
“It is time that we saw real action to cut costs for households squeezed by rising prices and stretched incomes.”
The announcement follows a review, commissioned as part of the Industrial Strategy green paper, which identified areas where the UK had strengths in battery technology and could benefit from linkage through increased fund.
Court said: “The global market is quickly moving towards a decentralised model, relying less on large fossil generation and more on flexible and increasingly cheap renewable sources. More energy storage empowers this and will lead to a lower cost, lower carbon energy system that will benefit households and businesses across the country.
“The launch of a battery institute will help guide next-generation storage technologies through the hazards that lay between a good idea in a lab and actual deployment in homes and on solar farms.
“The UK is among the global leaders for battery technology, but for the handbrakes to be taken off we need to see the rules and regulations made in a different age updated for these new technologies and approaches, coupled with a renewed commitment to renewables.
“The market is changing quickly, yet reversals in policy have seen the UK slowing in areas such as solar and onshore wind which are now cheaper than fossil fuels. The government needs to remember that the success of batteries, renewables and smart technologies are all interlinked.”
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