West Midlands wins £80m race for national battery centre

Greg Clark

An £80m national battery facility will be built in the West Midlands after a joint bid by Coventry, Warwickshire and the University of Warwick was chosen by the Government.

In July Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark launched the Faraday Challenge to fund battery technology projects. The centrepiece of the Challenge was investment for a national battery manufacturing development facility.

Clark has this afternoon revealed it will be established in the Coventry and Warwickshire area and be supported by £80m funding.

The announcement came hours after Meggitt revealed its plans to invest £130m in an engineering hub in Coventry.

Speaking at an energy conference at the University of Warwick, Clark said he believes the battery facility will “further enhance the West Midlands’ international reputation as a cluster of automotive excellence”. A suitable site for the development will now be sought.

He said: “Battery technology is one of the most game-changing forms of energy innovation and it is one of the cornerstones of our ambition, through the Industrial Strategy and the Faraday Challenge, to ensure that the UK leads the world, and reaps the economic benefits, in the global transition to a low carbon economy.”

The National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility will enable UK-based companies and researchers to build and maintain a world-leading position in manufacturing technologies for batteries and their components in vehicles and transportation.

It is designed to “provide a crucial new strategic link between the research, development and full-scale industrialisation for battery technologies across the UK” and will result in the creation of skilled jobs and developments within the automotive sector.

The facility is a partnership between Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Coventry City Council.

“We always believed with our globally-renowned pedigree in research and development, automotive and advanced engineering that we would be the perfect location to deliver such a cutting-edge project,” said Martin Yardley, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

WMG has been working with industry to develop and prove new battery technologies for 15 years and its current research projects include new battery technologies, how to scale up battery manufacturing, and exploring how to recycle and reuse such batteries.

Prof Lord Bhattacharyya, chairman of WMG said: “Coventry and the sub region has a significant contribution to make in the delivery of the UK’s national industrial strategy, being in a strong position to lead the advancement of battery development, and vehicle electrification and autonomous vehicles. It will be at the heart of the drive to make the city a smart motor city.”

The National Battery Manufacturing Development forms part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which was launched on Monday. It is seen as a key element in leveraging the opportunities in electrification, that has been estimated to be potentially worth up to £50bn and could drive significant jobs growth.