27 November 2023

UK battery strategy released

The UK battery strategy, released this week, sets out the government’s vision for the UK to achieve a globally competitive battery supply chain by 2030.

© Андрей Сизов on Unsplash

The document recognises that the UK is heavily dependent on imports for batteries and their materials. There is, it notes, a need to move to domestic production for economic security.

According to the UK Government the strategy is based around a design-build-sustain approach. Through this strategy, the UK will: 

  • design and develop the batteries of the future
  • strengthen the resilience of UK manufacturing supply chains
  • enable the development of a sustainable battery industry

A successful battery industry, the document states, will be an important source of jobs and regional economic growth. A battery industry that supports domestic demand for EVs could employ 100,000 people by 2040: 35,000 in cell manufacturing and 65,000 in the battery supply chain.

Fifteen points are set out as being ways the government will support the strategy, these include increasing collection rates for batteries and encouraging best practice in end-of-life management, supporting manufacturing skills training and education, and expanding market access for the trade of critical minerals.

The battery release follows the Advanced manufacturing plan, which includes intentions to forge partnerships with businesses to support market-led investment in innovation and R&D, increase UK capability to build supply chain resilience, and boost competitiveness.

IOM3 CEO Dr Colin Church CEnv FIMMM said, 'Publication of these documents provides welcome recognition from Government of the essential role the advanced manufacturing and battery sectors play in the UK economy and transition to a low-carbon, resilient and resource efficient society. 

It is good to see a number of issues that IOM3 has been advocating for picked up including the need for more granular data to better inform business and policy decisions, greater resilience in supply chains, lower energy costs for energy intensive industries and responsible supplies of critical materials.

In light of significant global competition, building on the UK’s comparative advantage including its research expertise and unique strengths in critical minerals will be essential. The Battery Strategy contains a great deal of positive language and identifies key areas for action to enhance the UK proposition from supporting R&D and innovation, through bridging the gap between research and commercial production, to expanding market access for the trade of critical minerals, maintaining safety and product standards and moving towards a more circular economy incentivising reuse, repurposing and domestic recycling infrastructure. 

It is encouraging to see UK Government taking steps towards strategic support for the advanced manufacturing and battery sectors with a range of measures to boost competitiveness and offer greater certainty for investment.’

Dr Church continued, ‘As outlined in the Strategy, a thriving industry requires a productive workforce with skills along the entire value chain and at all levels. However, as the IOM3 report ‘The talent gap: critical skills for critical materials’ highlights, there are significant and growing skills gaps that pose a risk to the industry and UK economy. The commitment to training and education is therefore welcome and IOM3 continues to work with government and stakeholders to support and develop a responsible and sustainable workforce and talent pipeline.

Government has indicated the upcoming release of a number of further strategies and engagement activities will be that will be key to translating the ambition and framework into action on the ground. IOM3 looks forward to the publication of these documents including the UK Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy, low carbon hydrogen production roadmap and consultation focussing on best practice for end-of-life battery management.’