As well as our scientific research programmes, the Faraday Institution provides an independent, evidence-based understanding of battery economics, societal issues, capabilities, and competitive position through commissioned studies and insights publications. The aim is to bridge knowledge gaps across industry, academia and government.
The Faraday Institution regularly publishes Faraday Insights, evidence-based assessments of the market, economics, commercial potential, and capabilities for energy storage technologies and the transition to a fully electric UK. The insights are concise briefings that aim to help bridge knowledge gaps across industry, academia, and government.
If you would like to suggest a subject for a future Insight, please contact us.
Sodium-ion Batteries: Inexpensive and Sustainable Energy Storage
Sodium-ion batteries are an emerging battery technology with promising cost, safety, sustainability and performance advantages over current commercialised lithium-ion batteries. Key advantages include the use of widely available and inexpensive raw materials and a rapidly scalable technology based around existing lithium-ion production methods. These properties make sodium-ion batteries especially important in meeting global demand for carbon-neutral energy storage solutions.
Why Batteries Fail and How to Improve Them: Understanding Degradation to Advance Lithium-ion Battery Performance
Fundamental research on lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) dates to the 1970s, with their successful commercialisation delivered by Sony in 1991. Since then, LIBs have revolutionised the world of portable electronics, owing to their high energy density and long lifespan. Whilst LIB uptake initially powered small devices, they are now enabling global growth in electric vehicles, as well as having an increasing presence in new areas such as grid storage. Whilst LIBs will continue to lead electrification in multiple sectors, there are still requirements for improvements in lifetime, performance and safety. To achieve these researchers need to better understand – and find ways to mitigate – the many causes of battery degradation.
The Importance of Coherent Regulatory and Policy Strategies for the Recycling of EV Batteries
The move to electric vehicles (EVs) has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. However, the transition also brings associated environmental challenges with the need for efficient recycling systems to tackle the large numbers of EV lithium-ion batteries reaching end-of-life. Unless this waste flow is managed, some of the gains of the transition to EVs will be lost. Effective waste management infrastructure and a supportive regulatory framework will be necessary to realise the full benefits of a decarbonised transport sector.
Lithium-Sulfur Batteries: Lightweight Technology for Multiple Sectors
Lithium-sulfur technology has the potential to offer cheaper, lighter-weight batteries that also offer safety advantages. After initially finding use in niche markets such as satellites, drones and military vehicles, the technology has the potential to transform aviation in the long-term. Electric aircraft offering short-range flights or vertical take-off and landing (including personalised aviation and flying taxis in cities) are distinct possibilities by 2050. The UK, which is already home to established lithium-sulfur battery manufacturers and to leading academics in the field, has a great opportunity to be the global leader in this ground-breaking technology.
A rapidly growing market for batteries across the globe has intensified pressures on suppliers of cobalt to meet surges in demand. This has impacted the livelihoods of miners – in particular, those working in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s artisanal and small-scale mines – in both beneficial and deleterious ways. International efforts by businesses, governments, and NGOs to secure a responsible supply chain for cobalt have the potential to protect lives and livelihoods while ensuring corrupt practices are held in check.
Lithium, Cobalt and Nickel: The Gold Rush of the 21st Century
Ending UK sales of new vehicles running on diesel and petrol by 2030 will massively increase the demand for lithium, cobalt and nickel used to manufacture electric vehicle batteries. Many countries around the world are embarking on a similar path to electrification. Even so, global markets for raw materials should be able to deliver the demand in the UK and elsewhere. But action is needed now to iron out likely bottlenecks in supply chains.
Solid-State Batteries: The Technology of the 2030s but the Research Challenge of the 2020s
The development of solid-state batteries that can be manufactured at a large scale is one of the most important challenges in the battery industry today. The ambition is to develop solid-state batteries, suitable for use in electric vehicles, which substantially surpass the performance, safety, and processing limitations of lithium-ion batteries. In contrast to research into lithium-ion batteries, which will provide incremental gains in performance toward theoretical limits, research into solid-state batteries is long-term and high-risk but also has the potential to be high-reward.
Electric Vehicle and Battery Safety Skills for Emergency Services, Vehicle Repair, and Auto Retailers
Fire, police, ambulance, and service personnel will need new skills to handle EV accidents and repair to ensure the safety of themselves and others. The number of those workers who need reskilling is substantial and resources are needed to support sector skills councils and providers for regional delivery of accredited courses.
This insight was first published in November 2019, with minor updates made in May 2021.
Bringing Cheap, Clean and Reliable Energy to Developing Countries
Over 800 million people worldwide do not have access to electricity and, of those that do, many suffer from an unreliable supply. Diesel and petrol generators commonly used in developing countries bring problems of noise, air quality and climate impacts. Energy storage technologies including batteries have the potential to replace generators and provide cheap, clean and reliable electricity to millions of people.
The Faraday Institution and the Department for International Development (DfID) commissioned consultants Vivid Economics to perform a rapid market and technology assessment of storage in weak and off-grid contexts in developing countries, to which this Insight refers.
The Gigafactory Boom: the Demand for Battery Manufacturing in the UK
The transition to electric vehicles will substantially increase the demand for batteries. Across Europe, there is a race to develop battery manufacturing factories to meet this demand. The UK is well-positioned to be a major player in this market. By 2040, the Faraday Institution estimates that eight gigafactories will be needed in the UK and consequently employment in the automotive industry and battery supply chain could increase from 186,000 to 246,000 jobs.
The Road to Electrification – From the Internal Combustion Engine to the Battery Electric Vehicle
All around the world, markets are transitioning from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles (EVs). The UK is at the forefront of this push for the electrification of road transport. By 2030, the Faraday Institution expects that 64% of new cars bought in the UK will be EVs. Three-quarters of these will be battery EVs and one-quarter plug-in hybrids.
In addition to our Faraday Insights, the organisation also circulates short press briefings on subjects topical to energy storage policy and market adoption. These provide comment from subject area experts and background information providing insight to journalists.
We welcome approaches from journalists seeking comment on a range of subject areas around battery research, innovation, roll-out and policy. Please contact Communications Lead Louise Gould to set up an interview.
Brexit and Batteries: Rules of Origin
“The trade deal and new rules of origin should provide the conditions for the UK automotive industry to succeed. But, to do so, it is now more important than ever that gigafactories are built in the UK, and quickly, and with well-developed local supply chains,” Stephen Gifford, Chief Economist, Faraday Institution.
UK Electric Vehicle and Battery Production Potential to 2040
On March 12th 2020 the Faraday Institution published an update to its study “UK Electric Vehicle and Battery Production Potential to 2040”, first published in 2019.
The study answers the question, “What is the maximum opportunity for EV and battery cell production to be based in the UK by 2030 and 2040, and what actions need to be taken now, and by whom, to ensure that this opportunity is captured?”
The study finds that while there will be demand for seven UK-based gigafactories (large, high volume battery manufacturing facilities) by 2040, each producing 20 GWh per year of batteries, the UK is at risk of falling further behind Europe for battery manufacturing.
The Faraday Institution study forecasts that the overall industry workforce in the automotive and electric vehicle (EV) battery ecosystem could grow by 29% from 170,000 in 2020 to 220,000 employees by 2040.
This Faraday Report gives an overview of current battery technologies and markets for high energy applications. It is intended for use primarily by scientists and engineers in academia and industry as an introduction to current state of the art and an indication of what may be coming to the market over the next 5-10 years. For those not familiar with batteries for high energy applications, the report will inform early stages of product road-mapping and design. It also will provide readers with pointers of where to look for more detailed specification information. For those more familiar with the relevant battery technologies the report gives an introduction to the competitive landscape.
Global Overview of Energy Storage Performance Test Protocols
The Faraday Institution worked with NREL (the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and the World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) on the report “Global Overview of Energy Storage Performance Test Protocols” published in October 2020.
The following Faraday Institution technology roadmaps present an overview of the fundamental challenges impeding the commercial development of a range of energy storage technologies, the necessary advances to understand the underlying science, and the multidisciplinary approach being taken by our researchers in facing these challenges. It is our hope that these roadmaps will guide academia, industry, and funding agencies towards the further development of such batteries in the future.
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