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Monday, 27 July 2020 11:04

UK battery developer could remove our dependency on China as solar storage and e-transport booms

A UK developer & inventor company, Faradion, could take the lead in the battery market away from its current dependency on China. The global market is set to boom as utility-scale energy storage and electric transport expands. 

Although the UK missed out on the opportunity to take a lead in the Lithium-ion battery market which is dominated by Asian giants, with Faradion launching the manufacturing of sodium-ion batteries for electrical vehicles in India and Australia, the UK could take the lead in the sodium-ion battery market. This is important for securing and diversifying global supply chains in the e-mobility industry, which are currently dependent on China.

faradion 1The UK-based Faradion Ltd, one of the pioneers of sodium-ion batteries, claiming to be the first inventor and developer globally of sodium-ion batteries for commercial purposes and electronic vehicles.

The Sheffield-based company, one of the beneficiaries of the UK government's £246 million Faraday battery challenge, has announced partnerships in Australia and India to manufacture sodium-ion batteries which are an environment-friendly and cost-effective alternative to the widely-used lithium batteries.

The company is gearing up to supply over 1 GWh/per annum by 2024/25 worth in excess of approximately $100 million/year.

The worldwide battery market is predicted to grow to $60 billion by 2024 as utility-scale energy storage expands. The transport sector will make up a large proportion of the market share as electric and hybrid vehicles become increasingly common on the roads.

Faradion's sodium-ion technology provides similar performance to conventional chemistries while replacing expensive and rare materials such as cobalt and lithium with the far more abundant sodium. Unlike lithium-ion and lead acid batteries, Faradion's sodium-ion batteries also have exceptional thermal stability, safety and are more sustainable. Further, they can be safely transported and maintained at zero volts.

faradion 2Faradion Ltd has seen significant interest in several markets, including the US, Europe and Australia due to its performance, safety and price point, explains its CEO, James Quinn. "Given the market conditions, Australia and India were the next logical regions for Faradion. Our Joint Venture with ICM Australia and their order was a first step for an Australian company to commercialise world-leading sodium-ion technology. In India, our partnership with IPLTech reflects an important milestone in our commitment to the electric vehicles market."

Australia and New Zealand have reported a steady uptake in battery storage in residential, commercial and grid-scale applications due to factors including significant reductions in the cost of storage and solar systems; increasing cost of electricity, concerns about blackouts and financial incentives and policies from the government.

Speaking about the order for Sodium-ion batteries from Faradion, ICM Australia Investment Director Thomas Gregson said: "We are pleased to be offering a premium product that is safe and price competitive to the Australasian market. We have seen large interest in energy storage solutions recently and believe the Faradion technology can provide, in a sustainable way, the energy security customers require at attractive ROIs."

faradion 3Meanwhile, India is fast moving towards electric commercial vehicles, driven by the Government's target of 30% electric vehicle adoption by 2030. "This is an incredible opportunity for us," adds Quinn.

Siddhartha Das, Executive Chairman, IPLTech (India) said: "We aim to reduce the pollution caused by heavy goods vehicles in India. This partnership represents a commitment to work with this world-leading sodium-ion technology to realise this joint vision. Our electric mega trucks are the first of their kind to be integrated and deployed in India. We believe that the Faradion technology can provide the Indian market an effective solution at competitive prices."

Having seen significant interest in regions such as the US, Europe and India due to its performance, safety and price point, Quinn concludes: "Unlike in India, where the demand is for e-mobility, in Australia, the market for energy storage is primarily for household battery technologies to complement solar photovoltaic installations, although the market for large-scale energy storage is also growing."

In the UK and internationally, Faradion is confident that sustainable sodium-ion batteries can play a key role in shaping a post-COVID economic recovery.