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How government investment is securing a low carbon future


The environment has taken centre stage on the news agenda. It follows the launch of the Government’s 25 year environmental plan in which Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

While the war on plastic waste has grabbed the headlines, the Government was also busy securing a deal with the automotive industry to help make Britain a world leader in low carbon mobility. The joint deal between industry and government will see £52.8 million invested in low-carbon vehicle projects.

The £26.4 million the Government is investing will be matched by industry to build on long-term commitments in areas including the design and development of autonomous vehicles and the research and development of battery technology.

The joint investment will also look at ways of accelerating the manufacture of ultra-low and zero-emission vehicles, with flagship projects led by Ford, GKN and Jaguar Land Rover. The Business Secretary Greg Clark hailed the deal as a “landmark agreement” and praised the role that the UK automotive industry has played over the past decade in driving the economy forward.

Industry wide collaboration

Mr Clark spoke about the impact that technology is having on the industry and said that the sector will see more changes in the next 10 years than it has in the previous hundred. He added: “As we open the automotive sector’s next chapter, we will continue to work with industry to make sure the technologies of tomorrow are developed, tested and manufactured right here in the UK.”

The deal between the Government and the automotive industry is part of the Government’s plans to cut emissions. The Climate Change Act of 2008 set ambitious targets to reduce emissions by at least 80% against the 1990 baseline by 2050.

In order to meet those targets, the Government has been investing heavily in science, research and development and emerging technologies, pledging to invest £500 million over 10 years to 2023. It has used that funding which was matched by £500 million of industry investment to set up the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

Formed in 2013 the APC was created to position the UK as a centre of excellence for low carbon propulsion development and production. It brings together an industry-wide collaboration of innovators and producers of low carbon propulsion systems, helping those with good ideas to manufacture them and bring them to market.

Multi-million pound investments

Some of the projects currently being undertaken by the APC include a £20.4 million (aided by a £10.3 million government grant) program led by Jaguar Land Rover and its partners to develop six new advanced Internal Combustion Engine technologies.

GKN Land Systems and its partners received a £7.5 million government grant to deliver on a £16 million project to apply motorsport energy recovery technology for use in buses and trucks. Meanwhile Norton Motorcycles Ltd and its partners are working on a £6.5 million project, aided by a £2.7 million grant to develop a class leading, low drag, lightweight, high performance motorcycle, which will result in CO2 savings of 15%.

There are also several other major ongoing projects thanks to the APC that are helping to reduce emissions and put the UK at the forefront of environmentally friendly automation. One area that has been identified as key to reducing emissions is the design and production of batteries for the electrification of vehicles.

Leading the way in battery technology

Last July, the Government set-up the “Faraday Institution” – a multi-million pound research institute to accelerate research in developing battery technologies, and its transformation. The project, called the “Faraday Challenge” is a £246 million competition to boost expertise in this area. In October last year, the “Battery Institute” was announced with a £65 million investment from the fund.

Bringing together the expertise and insight from its seven founding partner universities, industry partners and other academic institutions, the institute is responsible for building the UK’s status as a global leader in battery research and technology. Earlier this year, a number of projects to win investment from the fund were announced, among them being a £7 million program to develop significantly better materials for Li-ion batteries.

Led by Nexeon, the SUNRISE project will develop materials based on silicon to replace carbon in the anode of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The project aims to develop a silicon based battery that is equipped to power a vehicle for 400 miles and above on a single charge.

As well as helping to reduce emissions, the Government’s investment in this area is helping to create economic opportunities while gaining a world-class reputation for the UK in research and development. The partnership with industry is one that is yielding results.

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