The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced the launch of the Faraday Institute, a consortium of seven UK universities that will accelerate the research and development of battery technologies. The move forms part of the £246 million Faraday Research Challenge, which is divided into three streams: research, innovation, and scale-up. Business Secretary, Greg Clarke, said, “Through the Faraday Research Challenge, we are cementing our position as the ‘go-to’ destination for battery technology so we can exploit the global transition to a low-carbon economy”. The Faraday Battery Institute will receive a budget of £65 million over four years to establish a training programme and fund a series of research projects. The focus of the first four projects will be extending battery life, designing better battery systems through multi-scale modelling, working to provide a longer driving range for vehicle batteries, and ensuring that the industry is sustainable. The institution will also encourage international engagement. The universities founding the institute are Imperial College, Newcastle, UCL, Cambridge, Oxford, Southampton, and Warwick. These academic institutions will work with industry partners such as Northern Powergrid and Siemens. Meanwhile, the UK’s Solar Trade Association has launched a new storage commitment to encourage the take-up of domestic storage solutions and to ensure that trade standards are established. A focus will be to clearly communicate the benefits and limitations of storage to customers.
On a global scale, countries are competing to gain their share of the battery market as the transition to a low-carbon future creates jobs and brings wider benefits to the economy. A recent forecast from Bloomberg predicted that China’s share of global lithium battery production would reach 65% in 2021. Australia sees battery storage as a vital part of the solution to its energy supply problems. The world’s largest lithium-ion battery is currently being built in South Australia by Tesla, which Elon Musk committed in July to build within 100 days. As part of the government’s energy plan, the battery will be connected to a neighbouring windfarm and add reliability to the supply network by releasing power to the grid at times of peak demand.