Green energy innovations powering regional investment

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has been ‘a phenomenal asset’ in helping mature Ultimate Battery Company’s breakthrough green energy technology, which is set to create hundreds of jobs in South Yorkshire in its new production plant for lightweight, eco-friendly batteries.

The company, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions through transformative new technologies and energy storage solutions, will anchor its manufacturing base in the region following a pledge of financial support from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA), and help from the Department of International Trade (DIT).

Maurizio Cunningham-Brown, CEO of Ultimate Battery Company, said relocation support from the SYMCA, along with help forging close research connections with the AMRC and wider University of Sheffield, have been invaluable.

He said: “We looked at around 15 different areas, but the one that stood out most for us was South Yorkshire. Not only does the region have a great infrastructure, state-of-the-art research facilities and a talented workforce, but the SYMCA was the most supportive in helping us to drive forward our ambitions.

“They also helped us to develop a close partnership with the University of Sheffield’s engineering students and the University of Sheffield AMRC’s engineering team. During the research stages, they have both been phenomenal in helping us to further develop the technology for our new units and in achieving our goals.

“The SYMCA team are extremely forward thinking, well connected and experts in guiding us through the funding process, and they also helped us to pinpoint the most suitable business support and research opportunities available, which are proving invaluable to our business.”

Steve Foxley, CEO of the University of Sheffield AMRC, welcomed the news as another vote of confidence in South Yorkshire’s capabilities for future energy systems.

He said: “It has been a great pleasure to work with Ultimate Battery Company around its manufacturing innovations for energy storage technology. We are delighted to see they are now building on that collaboration with inward investment into South Yorkshire, close to the research expertise of the AMRC.

“It further adds to the growing cluster around the manufacture of sustainable energy systems that we are seeing in the region. This will be hugely important for South Yorkshire’s future and our national mission to drive and thrive in the low carbon transition.

“We look forward to working with Ultimate Battery Company on future projects, accelerating the journey to net zero and opening up new opportunities around cheaper, greener future energy systems.”

Maurizio explained that existing battery technology is monopolar based, which he says makes it ‘inherently inefficient, very costly, heavy and environmentally unfriendly’.

“For all batteries, including stop/start and lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries, this translates to shorter run times and limited travel range, as well as a substantial cost for the customer,” he said.

“Our aim is to deliver a new battery that provides Lithium-like performance at 35% of the cost, enables twice the energy to be stored in the same physical space and provides a faster charging rate. These batteries also significantly reduce weight by up to 15Kg per vehicle, driving down CO2 emissions and manufacturing costs, while increasing energy densities.

“To achieve production and development of these products we needed to find a location that would help make the process as smooth as possible and provide our business the support needed to get our plans in motion.”

The company’s investment in South Yorkshire follows the government’s launch of the net zero strategy, setting out how the UK will deliver on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. UBC’s plans for a new production and R&D facility were announced as one of 18 deals in a £9.7bn package of foreign investment at the Global Investment Summit in October 2021. Some 30,000 jobs have been pledged to be created through the deals, supporting growth in vital sectors such as wind and hydrogen energy, sustainable homes and carbon capture and storage.

Ultimate Battery Company worked closely with the Department of International Trade to determine key requirements, such as available land and facilities, access to business support and a talented workforce. After being put into contact with a number of regions across the UK, and after reviewing the key opportunities available within each area, the company decided South Yorkshire was the most suitable location.

The SYMCA has pledged significant financial support to the Ultimate Battery Company to enable it to set up a new research and development centre and manufacturing facility in the region to develop lighter, more energy dense batteries for the automotive sector, which will create hundreds of new jobs.

Gareth Morgan, SYMCA senior business development manager for trade and investment said: “With so many exciting plans in place, the Ultimate Battery Company offers a huge range of opportunities for our region in terms of recruitment, education and export opportunities.

“The company is already making valuable connections with the AMRC and University of Sheffield, which both offer excellent resources and expertise to help UBC get their plans in motion. We are confident that working in partnership, these organisations are destined to be at the forefront of greener battery solutions in no time.

“South Yorkshire was once a key location for the UK’s energy sector and as the move to greener energy picks up the pace, there is great potential for us to be leading the way again. We have many innovative organisations working in the energy sector already based here and each one is making real waves in zero carbon technologies.

“These companies and the UBC are important assets in helping us to develop a dedicated low- carbon hub and meet the targets set out in our energy strategy; which outlines our ambitions to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, ten years before the goal set by the government. We are very pleased to welcome UBC to South Yorkshire, and we look forward to supporting the business further as it begins the next step of its ambitious growth plans.”

Richard Gardiner, senior innovation fellow at the University of Sheffield AMRC said it has been hugely rewarding to work with the Ultimate Battery Company in the development of its innovative battery technology.

“To take a design concept and collaboratively work with them to mature their concept such that the results have facilitated inward investment, will bring future economic benefit to the region, and ultimately make a positive environmental contribution to net zero targets is what the AMRC is here for. I am excited to be working with UBC and look forward to where future collaboration leads.”

As well as continuing to work alongside the AMRC, the Ultimate Battery Company also has its sights set on making the switch to electric vehicles easier for manufacturers.

“For both manufacturers and consumers, one of the major reasons for not adopting the use of electric vehicles is the increased cost compared with a traditional combustion engine motor vehicle,” said Maurizio.

“Our new battery changes the equation – not only will the electric vehicles achieve purchase price parity with traditional cars, but the total cost of ownership will be significantly less – both lower operating and maintenance costs. Additionally, as we further develop our new batteries we also expect to be able to significantly improve charging times.

“The demand for these products is out there and has already been confirmed by a wide range of leading automotive manufacturers and other related industries. As such, we are confident that with the resources we will have in place at our new facility and the technology we are looking to bring online, we can support the drive to move to electric vehicles long before the 2040 target.

“In the meantime, we’re looking forward to being located in South Yorkshire to make these exciting plans a reality and working with SYMCA, the AMRC and DIT to get our new facility up and running and push the start button on what will be the new car battery of the future.”

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