PRIME Minister Boris Johnson was in Coventry today to officially open the £130million UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC).
The 18,500sq metre state-of-the-art centre has been developed to support the UK industry with the development of battery technology as the country moves towards electrification from other types of fuels.
This will support the UK’s climate change targets, which includes achieving ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050 and, for the automotive sector, an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.
UKBIC can be used by any organisation working on batteries for electric vehicles, rail, aerospace, industrial and domestic equipment and static energy storage.
Organisations are able to find out whether their advanced technologies can be scaled up successfully before committing to the huge investment required for mass production.
The centre employs more than 80 battery technicians, engineers, and support staff, with plans for that number to grow to support future project partnerships with industry and research organisations.
Speaking during his visit, Mr Johnson said: “UKBIC is a beacon of innovation and ingenuity- shining the way for a brighter, greener future for the battery sector in the UK.
“It was an honour to open this world-class facility today and I cannot think of a more fitting backdrop here in Coventry to speak about the Government’s ambitious agenda to level up across the UK.
“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.”
Jeff Pratt, UKBIC’s Managing Director, added he was delighted the centre was opened for business, having been ‘deliberately speeded up during the pandemic to get to this point’.
“UKBIC is a key part of the UK Government’s Faraday Battery Challenge, created to fast track the commercialisation of cost-effective, high-performance, durable, safe, low-weight and recyclable batteries.
“The battery manufacturing equipment installed covers the whole production process – from electrode manufacturing, cylindrical and pouch cell assembly, to formation aging and testing and battery modules and packs.”
He added the centre also served to train and upskill people in the UK battery sector.
“The importance of the battery sector to the UK economy cannot be underestimated.
“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.
“As we all look to recover from the impact of Coronavirus, we have the opportunity to help make the UK a global leader in batteries, with UKBIC and the Faraday Institution supporting the UK battery industry to become world leaders.”
In addition to funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge through UK Research and Innovation, UKBIC is also part-funded through the West Midlands Combined Authority. The project has been delivered through a consortium of Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and WMG, at the University of Warwick. UKBIC was created in 2018 following a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre with support from Innovate UK.