UK Battery Strategy Commentary

Ahead of the Global Investment Summit hosted recently in November 2023 at Hampton Court Palace, the UK Government launched its UK Battery Strategy. With the intention of developing resilient mineral supply chains and significantly enhanced manufacture output, the proposal sets out an ambitious roadmap aimed at positioning the UK as a global leader in battery technologies.

The Strategy is structured into three pillars – Design, Build, and Sustain – devised to foster and then maintain an extensive battery economy spanning the full lifecycle of batteries, ranging from new research and development through to end-of-life recycling.


The first of these pillars focuses on the innovation and development of future battery technologies in the UK.  The strategy designates £60m of funding to new research and development projects, including a further £11m of investment for winners of the Faraday Battery Challenge. We have already published an article about the Faraday Challenge, where you can find out more about some of the exciting technology being developed by some of its entrants.

In discussing its innovation vision, the Battery Strategy makes an important reference to the Government Office for Science’s report on novel batteries published earlier this year. An important finding of this Rapid Technology Assessment was that UK businesses and universities file relatively fewer patents than other leading nations in the battery space, despite the UK being regarded as one of the world’s leading nations for innovative battery research. 

The UK’s relatively low patent filings output is an endemic problem not only limited to battery technologies. We have commentated on this challenge previously and its consequences on stifling the growth of the UK’s innovative industries.

It is encouraging to see that the government have at least observed the UK’s shortcomings in patent filings. Looking ahead, it would be welcomed to see this supported by government policy, such as an initiative which teaches innovators about the importance of protecting their intellectual property. This is because, unless inventions are protected, there would be nothing to stop international competitors from exploiting the innovation in which the government has invested UK taxpayers’ money.


The Build pillar promises to improve raw material supply chain security and scale up manufacturing facilities, so that the UK can produce battery goods more reliably and in greater volumes.

As the Strategy recognises, supply chains for manufacturing batteries are complicated. Producing batteries and battery components requires a wide range of materials, including rare metals such as lithium, cobalt and manganese. Our earlier article discusses some of the difficulties caused by the limited supply of raw materials as the world continues to shift towards battery technologies. 

As global demand for batteries increases, it becomes progressively difficult for manufacturers to get hold of the limited amounts of these materials available on the market. To ensure that supply chains to UK businesses remains resilient, the government is looking domestically to find new sources of these raw materials.

Significant deposits of lithium have been identified in Cornwall in recent years. The Battery Strategy sets out various fundings for extracting and refining these deposits, which include £5.5m of R&D grants already committed to British Lithium since 2019 and a £24m equity investment in Cornish Lithium earlier this year.

Of course, while the need for domestically sourced lithium is clear and with demand set to rise, the government will need to balance this with their environmental commitments. It will be interesting to observe how the government’s stance on mining projects develops as supply chains of raw materials such as lithium change in the future (including sea mining projects, for which the Battery Strategy currently rules out government sponsorship).


The Battery Strategy’s third pillar, Sustain, concentrates on ensuring that the expansion of the UK’s battery industry is done sustainably and without compromising the government’s existing commitments to achieving net zero carbon emissions.

Batteries are rightfully hailed for their environmental credentials. We are already beginning to see, for example, how batteries can be used in vehicles to replace the internal combustion engine. However, it is important that the environmental impact of a battery is considered holistically and not only after it has been put into a car.

The government’s plans to scale up the UK’s battery economy will inevitably require more raw materials to be mined and more “gigafactories” to be built in order to meet the increased demand. These activities will, inevitably, produce greenhouse gas emissions and so will pose challenges to the government’s net zero targets.

To address this problem, the government’s Battery Strategy looks to one of its existing policies: the Circular Economy. In particular, the Strategy proposes to increase the UK’s capacity to recycle lithium-ion batteries to try to handle the estimated 150,000 tonnes of waste which will be produced in the UK by 2035.

It is promising to see that the Battery Strategy aims to define a route for scaling up the UK’s battery economy which aligns with their net zero ambitions; showing environmental responsibility in the government’s plans to dramatically scale up the UK’s battery sector is the right course of action. As well as this, it also increases the likelihood that the plans come to fruition, as it means that the aims of the Battery Strategy are less likely to clash with existing environmental policy. 


The government has high aspirations for the UK’s battery industry. The UK Battery Strategy is an ambitious proposal aimed at elevating the UK to being a globally leading manufacturer and exporter of battery technologies.

Expanding the UK’s battery economy is an opportunity to reinvigorate the UK’s manufacturing sector. The effects of this are already being seen in the automotive industry, where the government and Nissan have invested a combined £3bn into a battery and electric vehicle manufacturing hub in Sunderland, to produce the new electric Qashqai and Juke models. This also shows how the Battery Strategy can be used to fulfil the government’s Levelling Up initiatives to reduce geographic economic inequality in the UK.

Critics of the Battery Strategy say that it comes too late, as China, South Korea and Japan have already established battery economies and the US already produces significant amounts of battery goods from a plethora of battery gigafactories.

However, the UK’s position as a global leader in academic research into battery technologies gives it an excellent springboard to be at the forefront of the battery industry. A key challenge for the government will be in converting the UK’s academic excellence in battery technologies into domestic industrial success. We look forward to observing how the UK’s battery sector progresses in the future and will continue to support battery innovators along the way, since IP is a critical tool for protecting these technological advances and maximising the value of R&D.