Accelerating electrification in North East England: beyond the electric vehicle

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There is no better place than the North East to invest, collaborate or innovate in electrification technologies. Michelle Duggan, Inward Investment Manager at Invest North East England explains how North East England is accelerating the drive towards net zero.
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There is no better place than the North East to invest, collaborate or innovate in electrification technologies. Michelle Duggan, Inward Investment Manager at Invest North East England explains how North East England is accelerating the drive towards net zero.

North East England is the premier location for electrification transition – We are uniquely placed to fuel the drive to net zero with access to renewables, energy storage systems, mining for battery materials, processing and R&D capabilities. Plus, our ‘whole system’ capability encompasses the entire battery life-cycle, from formulations to the giga factories to build the batteries to recycling and second-life usage.

Electrification and the drive to net zero is much more than putting no and low carbon electric vehicles on the road. Anything that runs on an internal combustion engine can be electrified and our longstanding technological capabilities, especially in the automotive industry, means we have been able to accelerate the pace at which we develop electric vehicles as well as ‘off highway’ modes of transport, such as rail and plant machinery.

As net zero technologies and electrification continue to hit the headlines, the announcement of additional investment into the UK for an additional giga factory in Somerset by Tata in partnership with JLR is good news for North East England. There is an exponential growth in demand for battery technology and supply to support the electrification of transport industry and energy systems at a global level and the UK needs to continue to build its capacity.

Global investment in electric mobility has seen significant growth in recent years. The fDi Report 2023 highlights a period of exceptional growth in Electric Mobility FDI (Foreign Direct Investments) between 2016 and 2022. During this time, there has been an unprecedented and significant surge in FDI, which in turn showcased a thriving global investment landscape. In 2022, the investment in electric mobility reached new heights with 294 projects recorded globally, a substantial increase from the previous year. In 2021, 261 projects were reported, showing a remarkable rise of 33 projects in just 12 months.

FDI capital expenditure in 2022 also recorded a substantial jump, reaching an impressive $106bn compared to $41bn in 2021. This represents an extraordinary increase, almost tripling the investment made in just one year.

Consequently, there is a huge opportunity for the North East of England to capitalise on this growth. Our primary opportunity is in growing the existing supply chain, encompassing the whole battery system from materials and components to recycling and second-life uses. By combining battery manufacturing capability, lithium sourcing, automotive strengths and the manufacture of other electrification applications – such as off-highway transport and energy systems – with a strong base in energy systems and renewables, the North East’s net zero credentials can make a demonstrable contribution to meeting both national and international demand in electrification.

Our neighbours in Tees Valley have core strengths in the materials supply chain, refining, chemicals and process industries. With strongly aligned strategies and defined geography, we are part of a coherent ecosystem that enables us to bring together materials, processes, manufacturing and logistics as a regional value chain making a real difference to the sustainability agenda.

Importantly though, there is an innovation opportunity – new solutions to achieve net zero and develop disruptive electrification technologies. North East England has considerable expertise and experience in both industrial R&D and an academic research capability that is already operating in a multi-disciplinary environment. This joint research power is driving forward the new application of existing technologies and the cross fertilisation of ideas in different sectors, such as automotive battery innovations used in rail and other ‘off highway’ vehicles.

A year ago, our universities and CPI formed the North East Battery Alliance with the aim of harnessing the collective capability of over 400 researchers supporting battery technologies. This collaboration is undeniably our greatest strength. There are no ‘wrong doors’ for companies looking to innovate in future mobility and Newcastle University continues to build on its collaborative approach.

We will be showcasing our capability with a large-scale North East presence at this year’s CENEX LCV in Millbrook on the 6th and 7th September, one of the most prominent international events in the low carbon and EV sector. The team for the North East will be made up of experts in investment, EVs, battery technology as well as the North East’s exceptional digital technologies that support our drive towards an Electric NorthEast.

To find out more about the opportunities of locating a business in North East England, contact the Invest North East England team or come and see us at stand C3-106 at CENEX LCV.

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About The Author

Invest North East England is the first point of contact for companies looking to invest in our region. Our highly experienced team opens the door for investors to North East England’s network of specialist organisations and individuals with the information, support and advice essential to any investment decision. We co-ordinate investment enquiries on behalf of our region’s local authorities to ensure businesses are able to make the best decisions based on a wide array of information.

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