Industry leaders have warned that the UK will be “playing catch-up” by 2030.
A panel of battery material experts who appeared before the House of Commons delivered a damning verdict. They said that Britain’s automotive industry will be lost if a rapid supply chain is not created.
The new government “critical minerals strategy” was also criticized by MPs. It was described as “a wishlist without substance”, because “without money to back it up, it’s just words”.
Simon Moores of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence – a consultant for the industry – testified before MPs in the Business and Trade Select Committee that the UK was a spectator to a global arms race. The UK doesn’t have any strategy, so we have no runner.
He said: “The UK has missed the boat on the first round and possibly the second as well.” We must ensure that we do not miss the boat on the third and last round, which will begin around 2030.
Moores, when asked why the UK missed out on these opportunities, said: “You need to look at what the chemical and automotive companies in the UK were doing.
“They were not plugged in to batteries like China, Japan, Korea, the US, and the EU. “They haven’t even talked about lithium ion battery as a serious industry worth billions of pounds when everyone else is.”
Ian Constance is the chief executive of the taxpayer funded Advanced Propulsion Centre. When asked if there was a risk that the UK’s automotive industry would migrate to central Europe where dozens of megafactories are planned, Constance replied, “Absolutely Yes.” He also implied that Britain’s biggest automotive group, Range Rover and Jaguar, must support the construction of UK gigafactory.
Stephen Gifford is the chief economist at Faraday Institution. According to his projections, industrial demand will require ten battery production facilities of 20GWh by 2040, with five already in production. This meant that initial planning and attracting investments were required now.
When asked if he thought the UK had “missed out on the boat”, he responded: “No, time is running short.”
Britishvolt, a British-based battery manufacturer, was placed into administration earlier this year.