Funding awarded to low-carbon supply chains projects

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UK Research and Innovation has allocated £16.7m to 10 projects aiming to develop the self-sufficiency of Britain’s power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) supply chains.

supply chain
(Image: Ricardo UK)

The funding aims to build the UK’s manufacturing base for PEMD components while creating jobs and protecting Britain against potential overseas supply chain disruption.

Professor Will Drury, UKRI’s Driving the Electric Revolution Challenge director, said: “The coming electric revolution presents an opportunity to put the UK at the forefront of a burgeoning industry, creating manufacturing jobs and prosperity across the country.

“By building a sovereign supply chain, we can help make sure zero emission technologies are truly zero emission, while both mitigating against overseas supply chain disruption and cementing the UK’s place at the forefront of a burgeoning industry.”

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A project led by Ricardo UK has been developing a rare-earth magnet-free electric motor concept with aluminium stator windings, which retains the key attributes of magnet-rich motors. The goal has been to create technology which is robust, costs less than current products and reduces lifecycle impact by eliminating the use of scarce resources - up to 12kg of rare earth metals - and also high acidification materials without impacting motor function or quality. The project is expected to enable the UK to scale motor production and transition to electrified transport while reducing the impact of changes in international markets.

Other projects cover plans to develop sovereign supply chains for manufacturing a range of PEMD components and products.

As well as investing in innovation, £33m from an overall funding pot of £80m is going to create a network of regional industrialisation centres, based at existing areas of expertise in Strathclyde, Sunderland, Nottingham and Newport.

In addition, £6m of Driving the Electric Revolution funding will go towards training the workforce required to support the UK’s high-tech green economy.

Around £11.3m of the £16.7m overall funding is going to organisations based in Wales, the west midlands, Scotland, the northeast of England and the east midlands. Micro and small enterprises are to receive £6.2m, medium sized enterprises £3.6m and universities £2.5m.

Marc Brand, director of Business Development at Supply Design Limited, said: “For many sectors the future is electric, and the UK can take a leading role, but only if companies of all sizes and in all parts of the country are involved. The funding from Driving the Electric Revolution challenge is helping us to act like a large innovative integrated multinational. It’s allowing us to bring together advanced simulations tools, high-value manufacturing capability, and development expertise to maximise novel UK intellectual property.

“Without support, the interaction would be too risky and we would lose the collaborative interaction, expertise and focus required to create clear competitive advantages in this fast-growing niche.”

Zero emission technologies including electric cars and wind turbines are the product of a carbon-intensive, pan-global supply chain. This process means a significant portion of the reduced emissions are ‘off-shored’ in other countries, where the components and finished products are manufactured. It is hoped a low-carbon sovereign supply chain will enable the UK to achieve ‘true NetZero.’