UK legislators launch battery supply chain inquiry ahead of switch to electric vehicles

by John Shepherd
UK battery tech developer Britishvolt has named Blyth, in northeast England, as the site of its first electric vehicle battery gigafactory. Image: Britishvolt
Legislators have launched a battery supply chain inquiry, to ensure the UK can navigate the potentially "rocky road” in switching to battery electric vehicles.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said it has been estimated that "at least eight gigafactories will need to be operational by 2040”, to meet anticipated demand for electric vehicles, after the government said it would ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.

EAC chairman, Philip Dunne, has warned that the road to banning petrol and diesel cars "could be rocky, with challenges in manufacturing capacity, a skilled workforce and extraction of critical components”.

Now the EAC is calling for written submissions as part of its inquiry, which is expected to cover a range of subjects including what action is needed to support investment and establishment of UK gigafactories.

Lithium mining

Other topics expected to be discussed include battery recycling and access to raw materials, renewable energy supply and the UK’s "technological readiness” to encourage development of battery manufacturing.

The EAC said lithium-ion batteries are currently the main battery technology used in electric vehicles and, "while there are plans to mine lithium in Cornwall, extraction brings with it concerns about habitat destruction, pollution and water use”. The necessity for mining could be reduced "with effective reuse and recycling”, the EAC said.

Last year, UK battery tech developer Britishvolt named Blyth, in northeast England, as the site of its first electric vehicle battery gigafactory, with a total investment cost of £2.6bn.

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