It was fantastic to work with Reuters on this important call to arms for the UK battery sector!
Batteries are a key part of the new energy supply chain, both for automotive and renewable energy storage applications, but there are huge challenges for the UK industry:
- The objective is an integrated industrial value chain- manufacturing, assembling high value products and ultimately recycling the cells and materials
- There are currently severe market distortions in the global supply chain that will likely require temporary state intervention to redress
- Structural deficits in the supply of battery elements are looming for the global industry- price and supply volatility is inevitable in the medium term
The UK has a history of devising cost-effective solutions to attract vital private sector investment for these types of challenges, and we urgently need that now:
- Brexit catalyses the challenge but also the solutions- can we develop a domestic industry by 2027?
- We need UK Gigafactories, but also a short supply chain to support them- because batteries are heavy!
- Multilateral solutions can address supply concerns: e.g. alliances with Canada, Australia and South Africa
- Dynamic innovation and rigorous environmental standards can build on the UK's strengths in a global market-place
The Six-Year Challenge is on!
Guy Winter, a partner at Fasken who has advised the government in the past, said Britain needed a "battery czar" to make sure the industry pulled together - a role played in the EU by European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic since 2017. Winter said failure to provide enough support, whether in Britain or the EU, would hand the race to China, which makes about three quarters of the world's EV batteries.