Last month the Business Secretary Greg Clark announced £246 million of pubic investment into battery technology. Known as the ‘Faraday Challenge’, this 4 year investment aims to update British energy generation and provide an alternative way of generating and delivering energy. The challenge aims to produce new, more efficient battery technology that will make energy easier to store.
The recent increase in electric cars and further anticipated changes in the automotive sector are also recognised in the Government’s announcement. By 2030 it is estimated that 30% of cars will be electric or hybrid. The Government has also announced a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040. What does this mean for the future of businesses? It could save companies millions on transport, potentially making it more efficient and cheaper, however it will require significant investment and cultural change.
Although headlines focused on electric vehicles, research for a widespread system of battery storage was also announced. One idea is to use recycled household batteries to store excess energy. In 2015, Tesla produced the ‘Powerwall’, which is able to store energy produced by solar panels in households, saving it for when it is needed. Storage systems like this could also have an effect on businesses, as it would change the power supply for large factories, office buildings and warehouse. This could ensure a more stable supply of power, as we see an increase in the role of renewable energy. In 2016 8.9% of energy in the UK was generated from renewable sources, with a 15% target in place for 2020.
This fundamental change could prove positive for the businesses, but what might be the challenges? The UK has been predominantly running on coal and fossil fuels since the 1700s. If the technology proves viable then a sizeable investment will be required to update the power grid. Purchasing new electric vehicles, as well as solar panels and energy storage, would be a significant investment for companies. With a shift away from fossil fuels it is a change that companies should explore further.
To conclude, investment is necessary for making the government’s ambition a reality. It will revolutionise how we use vehicles, as well as energy production and storage. For businesses, the investment has the potential to be positive.
By Sam Quinn