UK launches fund to boost elec­tric bat­tery tech­nol­ogy

Ma­jor growth area for car and en­ergy sec­tors

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Bri­tain launched a 246 mil­lion-pound ($320 mil­lion) fund yes­ter­day to boost the devel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing of elec­tric bat­ter­ies, a ma­jor growth area for the car and en­ergy sec­tors. The scheme, which al­lows those in busi­ness and academia to ap­ply for govern­ment funds to work on a range of pos­si­ble elec­tric bat­tery schemes, is part of Bri­tain’s in­dus­trial strat­egy which Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May pub­lished in Jan­uary. It is de­signed to take a more hands-on ap­proach to de­vel­op­ing key in­dus­tries to help pro­tect the e-econ­omy as Bri­tain leaves the Euro­pean Union.

Au­tomak­ers are rac­ing to build greener ve­hi­cles and im­prove charge times in a bid to meet ris­ing cus­tomer de­mand and meet air qual­ity tar­gets but Bri­tain lacks suf­fi­cient man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity, an area min­is­ters are keen to build up. The first tranche com­prises a 45 mil­lion-pound pot of money which will help to es­tab­lish a ‘Bat­tery In­sti­tute’ for re­search to help im­prove the af­ford­abil­ity of the tech­nol­ogy, which needs to bol­ster charge and use times, re­duce stor­age sizes and boost ca­pac­ity.

Busi­ness min­is­ter Greg Clark also wants to es­tab­lish a “Na­tional Bat­tery Man­u­fac­tur­ing Devel­op­ment fa­cil­ity” which would sup­port the build­ing of elec­tric bat­ter­ies for the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor. “Join­ing to­gether the re­search, devel­op­ment, ap­pli­ca­tion and man­u­fac­ture of en­ergy stor­age tech­nolo­gies - and specif­i­cally bat­tery stor­age - is a huge op­por­tu­nity for the en­ergy sec­tor and the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor alike,” Clark said in a speech in Birm­ing­ham. In May, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from pol­i­tics, academia and busi­ness in the cen­tral English city of Coven­try pitched plans to re­ceive part of the funds for a “Na­tional Bat­tery Pro­to­typ­ing Cen­tre” which would fo­cus on re­search and devel­op­ment and test­ing.

Ja­pan’s Nis­san al­ready builds its elec­tric Leaf at its north of England plant but Bri­tain’s big­gest car­maker Jaguar Land Rover is build­ing its first low-emis­sions model in Aus­tria.

Its chief ex­ec­u­tive told Reuters last year that a num­ber of fac­tors needed to be put in place be­fore JLR would build elec­tric models in Bri­tain, in­clud­ing pi­lot test­ing and sup­port from sci­ence.

Ger­many’s BMW favours build­ing its first elec­tric model at its Ox­ford plant, two sources told Reuters last week, in a de­ci­sion which is due to be an­nounced in Septem­ber.

Clark also said that up to 40 bil­lion pounds could be saved by 2050 with a range of mea­sures de­signed to bet­ter man­age en­ergy use, in­clud­ing al­low­ing users to con­trol their ap­pli­ances from their smart­phones. But busi­nesses have be­come more cau­tious about fu­ture in­vest­ment in Bri­tain ahead of Brexit, wor­ried that the coun­try may lose un­fet­tered and free trade with its big­gest ex­port part­ner at the end of two-year di­vorce talks in March 2019.

Many com­pa­nies have urged the govern­ment to push the Euro­pean Union to agree to a clear and lengthy tran­si­tional ar­range­ment to help them make in­vest­ment de­ci­sions.

Asked yes­ter­day when the govern­ment would set out the kind of tran­si­tional ar­range­ment it would be seek­ing, Clark said: “Dur­ing the au­tumn... and as the ne­go­ti­a­tions move for­ward, we hope from their ini­tial dis­cus­sion, then that’s the time to say more about that.” — Reuters

WASH­ING­TON: Bri­tish Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox speaks at Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute. Bri­tish Sec­re­tary of State for In­ter­na­tional Trade Liam Fox de­liv­ered re­marks on “The Fu­ture of UK Trade Pol­icy” at the Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute (AEI) yes­ter­day in Wash­ing­ton, DC. —AFP

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