The £130m UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) in Coventry was formally opened yesterday (15 July) by prime minister Boris Johnson.
Aiming to support UK industry in development and scaling up of battery technologies for future electrification, the 18,500m² facility will be available to any organisation working on batteries for electric vehicles, rail, aerospace, industrial and domestic equipment and static energy storage.
The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre employs more than 80 battery technicians, engineers and support staff, and has plans to expand with future project partnerships with industry and research organisations.
Prime minister Johnson described UKBIC as a ‘beacon of innovation and ingenuity’ during his visit yesterday, commenting: “This facility will help to deliver green growth and jobs as industrial demand accelerates in the UK battery sector. With the technology and government-backed expertise on offer right here in Coventry, I have no doubt that UKBIC will become world leaders in the industry.”
In support of the UK’s climate targets, which include achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, the facility will allow companies to assess whether technologies can be scaled up successfully before committing to the investment required for mass production.
UKBIC is part of UKRI’s Faraday Battery Challenge, an initiative aiming to rapidly scale up high-performance, cost-effective battery technologies. It was created in 2018 following a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre supported by Innovate UK.
The facility is also part-funded through the West Midlands Combined Authority and has been delivered through a consortium of Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and WMG at the University of Warwick.
Jeff Pratt, UKBIC’s managing director said that the importance of the battery sector to the UK economy must not be understated. “The battery manufacturing equipment installed covers the whole production process from electrode manufacturing, cylindrical and pouch cell assembly, to formation ageing and testing and battery modules and packs,” he said.
“The Faraday Institution believes that the equivalent of seven large gigafactories will be needed in the UK and employment in the automotive industry and battery supply chain could grow from 170,000 to 220,000 by 2040.”
Ian Constance, CEO of the Advanced Propulsion Centre added: “There’s billions of pounds of opportunity in the UK to manufacture the low-carbon technology needed by the automotive and clean-tech sectors. Recent announcements by Nissan and Stellantis to expand their electric vehicle operations here demonstrate the UK’s globally recognised expertise and capability in clean innovation.”