Batteries: The Future

Thursday 11th January 2018

As a product of the push for renewable technologies and Michael Gove’s announcement that the sale of new diesel and petrol cars will be stopped by 2040, a spotlight is being shone on the status of battery technology.

The Government has recognised that it needs to accelerate the UK into a leadership position in the research and manufacture of battery technology, in order to meet the demand expected from the shift away from internal combustion engines (ICE) and towards plug in electric vehicles.

To this end, a partnership of:

  • University of Warwick
  • Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Coventry City Council

has been awarded £80 million to establish a new National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility (NBMDF). It is intended that this investment will propel the UK forward in this thriving area, bringing together academia and industry to deliver the batteries required for the future.

Japanese motor vehicle spark plug giant, NGK, has announced it is turning its focus away from spark plugs to the next generation of solid state batteries for electric vehicles. It is using its expertise in ceramic technology to focus on the manufacture of solid state batteries which will be more powerful and safer than the lithium-ion batteries currently used by EVs.

Power storage has been recognised as an important part within the field of renewables, as having the ability to store energy when there is no demand and release the energy in the peak periods is a key requirement of satisfying grid demand.

An example of grid storage battery capability has been successfully demonstrated in South Australia. A 129 MWh system, installed by Tesla, was put to the test on the 14th of December when the Loy Yang power station suddenly went offline. In an instant the Tesla battery system provided emergency back up until other power sources could be brought back online. None of the connected customers were aware that there had been a problem.

The importance of batteries as our future power source for transport and power storage is starting to be realised by Government and industry. The shift in manufacture and design is bringing a whole new raft of technologies, in which the UK is positioning itself to be among the leaders.

Tesla Mega Battery in Jamestown , South Australia. Courtesy of BBC News.