Written evidence from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (BEV0010)


Benchmark Mineral Intelligence is pleased to offer our independent, expert, and data-first view on the UK’s position in batteries for electric vehicle manufacturing.


It is presented in the following five sections that tells the story of the commercial rise of the lithium-ion battery, a key technological pillar in the energy transition, and the lack of a comprehensive UK position in this rapidly growing market.


The five sections are as follows:


  1. The UK’s position in the global battery arms race
  2. Battery raw materials boom: the land grab for critical minerals
  3. State of play today: Where do the UK’s gigafactories and battery supply chain plans stand?
  4. UK Gigafactory Roadmap: What does the UK need to do?
  5. Hungary: A case study for attracting major tier one battery investment


The UK’s Michael Faraday discovered the principles of electromagnetic induction - the basis for today’s electric vehicles - and, at Oxford University, developed the first rechargeable lithium-ion battery.


The UK was also home to Europe's first fully integrated gigafactory in 2013 with the Envision AESC 1 facility supplying Nissan LEAF production in Sunderland.  


Yet despite this track record of firsts, the UK has no comprehensive commercial position in today’s industry.


We are in the midst of a global battery arms race and a land grab for the critical minerals to fuel it and yet the UK is a bystander.


Our team is most pleased to be able to present our view and look forward to engaging on the subject.



1) The UK’s position in the global battery arms race


a)       The world is in the midst of a global battery arms race and the UK is a bystander


b)       Around 2010, China began building out a position in the lithium ion battery supply chain, from raw materials through to battery production - this has resulted in a number one leadership position in this new electric vehicle economy and dominance of the supply chain as outlined by this chart:




Source: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence



c)       The lithium ion battery supply chain has grown an order of magnitude in the 8 years and is now shifting from startup to scale up


d)       The industry has grown from 60GWh of lithium ion battery supply in 2015 to 780GWh in 2022 and Benchmark Mineral Intelligence forecasts it to surpass 1,000GWh (1TWh or one terawatt hour of production) for the first time in 2023 - shifting the industry from the gigawatt (giga) era and into the terawatt (tera) era


e)       For reference: 100GWh can produce enough batteries for 1.5m pure EVs; 1,000GWh or 1TWh can produce 15m pure EVs


f)        The vast majority of this battery growth (>75%) has been driven by the uptake of pure electric vehicles: particularly from China’s EV makers and US-based Tesla, aided by the emergence of new EV models from auto majors in the US and Europe





g)       The dawn of the electric vehicle has sparked this global battery arms race seen best through the rise of the gigafactory: super sized battery plants in the gigawatt hours a year scale - an order of magnitude bigger than their predecessors


h)       The number of gigafactories that are active, under construction or planning in Benchmark’s 10-year pipeline, has grown from 5 in 2015 to 369 (Benchmark’s January 2023 Assessment)


i)        Of the 369 gigafactories Benchmark is tracking, 195 gigafactories are active producing battery cells today


j)        Chart: The Benchmark chart below shows lithium ion battery capacity by country in 2022 and forecasted out to 2035 - the UK is forecasted to remain below 1% throughout this time period



k)       The UK presently has one active gigafactory: Envision’s AESC plant in Sunderland 1 with 1.9GWh/year capacity


l)        The UK is on track to have only two active gigafactories by 2030: Envision AESC Sunderland 1 (1.9GWh by 2030) and AESC Sunderland 2 (25GWh to 38GWh by 2030)


m)     A re-launched Britishvolt may add a third gigafactory into this timeline



2) Battery raw materials boom: the land grab for critical minerals


n)      The battery raw material supply chain that feeds it - many of which are classified as critical minerals - has also had to scale and respond to this surging growth in demand - especially the key battery raw materials of lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt, and manganese


o)       Yet, it takes the best part of a decade to finance, build and launch critical minerals mines and chemical plants, while only two years to build a gigafactory


p)       This has created what Benchmark describes as the great raw material disconnect between supply and demand that is set to remain into the mid-2030s


q)       Gigafactories are critical mineral hungry hubs of demand; one gigafactory can consumed one mines’ equivalent of material within one year as outlined by the example of an expanded Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Nevada:



Source: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence


r)        Benchmark sets the lithium industry’s benchmark and reference pricing that is used to settle supply chain contracts between buyers and sellers and, using lithium’s price chart as a example, critical mineral price spikes and volatility has been a mainstay of the last five years


s)       Chart: Benchmark’s Lithium Price Assessments between January 2015 and 2023 show this story of price volatility driven by the slow supply responses for what is a niche industry versus the surge battery and EV demand:


Source: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (Accessed 11 February 2023)


3) State of play today: Where do the UK’s gigafactories and battery supply chain plans stand?



t)        The UK’s is on track to have two active gigafactories from one tier one battery maker, China-based AESC Envision, by 2030 with the capacity to produce between 25GWh and 38GWh of battery cells


u)       25GWh could produce 375,000 to 400,000 pure EVs, while 38GWh could produce upwards of 600,000 EVs


v)       In terms of the supply chain that feeds these gigafactories, the UK has the following active domestic suppliers of the specific battery grade materials needed:

    1. Cathode: 0
    2. Anode: 0
    3. Lithium: 1 (Leverton Lithium)
    4. Nickel: 0
    5. Cobalt: 0
    6. Graphite: 0
    7. Manganese: 0


w)     In terms of potential battery supply chain suppliers, the UK has the following outlined in the chart:

Source: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence




4) UK Gigafactory Roadmap: What does the UK need to do?


x)       A realistic goal: To be a serious industrial player in this electric vehicle and lithium ion economy, the UK needs to enter 2030 with 175GWh of battery cell capacity, ideally from a minimum of:


    1. 3 active gigafactories from tier one lithium ion battery makers


    1. 1 active gigafactory from a UK start up company


    1. Total gigafactory capacity going in to 2030s should be at least 175GWh (2.6m EVs worth of battery cells) focusing on NCM and LFP chemistries


y)       For context: Benchmark is forecasting that the following regions will have the annual  lithium ion battery capacities by 2030: China 5,448GWh; Europe (excluding UK) 1,158GWh, and USA 978GWh


z)       As an example: 175GWh/year of battery capacity (NCM chemistry) would require the following tonnages of raw materials: 210,000 tonnes graphite anode, 140,000 tonnes lithium (LCE), 142,000 tonnes nickel, 20,000 tonnes cobalt, 18,000 tonnes manganese


aa)    A combination of both NCM and LFP technologies would reduce the tonnages of some raw materials needed (namely nickel, cobalt, manganese), and increase the market opportunity in the nascent but growing energy storage market with a wider offering of different battery types at different market prices


bb)   For the coming decade, there is no doubt an industry needs to be built around the electric vehicle opportunity, however considering the UK’s position in wind energy, this major market opportunity to pair this with lithium ion battery capacity must also be captured


cc)    The UK should have a battery raw material, cathode and anode strategy to support this gigafactory build out and ensure the maintaining of knowledge and the creation of domestic battery materials complexes (where economically possible) are established to feed this growing industry


dd)   The UK should also have long term raw material supply agreements with friendly countries that are dominant in the upstream of this EV supply chain such as:


    1. Lithium: Argentina, Australia, Chile, Canada
    2. Nickel: Australia, Indonesia, Canada, Brazil
    3. Graphite: Canada, Madagascar, Mozambique
    4. Cobalt: DRC, Indonesia
    5. Manganese: South Africa, Australia, Brazil



ee)    The shift from a majority of combustion engines to electric vehicles will be dramatic and one of the greatest technological disruptions of our time yet the UK is woefully behind on building an industrial strategy centred on this


ff)     Any Lithium ion economic industrial strategy would a) protect the UK’s automotive industry from further disruption, b) capture the value from an already existing talent and knowledge pool to c) create a new forward facing 21st century industrial engine


gg)   The UK is one of the world’s leading educational and research centres of battery technology, yet there is a significant gap between this educational excellence and wide-spread commercialisation


hh)   In short we are missing the middle: we are very good at education, research and creating start up companies in the UK, but have a lack of larger companies and corporations that can industrialise this opportunity


ii)      Our large chemicals and technology companies have a duty to be significantly investing in some aspect of scaling the lithium ion battery and EV supply chain rather than sitting idly by through fear of shareholder retribution and lack of true understanding of the lithium ion opportunity ahead




5) Hungary: A case study for attracting major tier one battery investment


jj)      Hungary had no previous experience in lithium ion battery production prior to Samsung SDI establishing a gigafactory in 2016; it was purely driven by government policy, incentives and relationships with South Korea


kk)   Since this point, Hungary has shown it can build and scale lithium ion battery production and sell to the European market and, as a result, has sparked further battery investment from SK On (South Korea), CATL and EVE Energy (both China) totalling $12.8bn and rising


ll)      Hungary has developed into a downstream battery hub for Europe and is now a target for cathode, anode and EV production - complementing parts of the supply chain to battery cells


mm)                        The infographic below outlines Hungary’s position as of January 2023


Source: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence



About: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence


Benchmark is the world’s leading independent intelligence provider for the lithium ion battery, electric vehicle and energy storage supply chain.


Through our offering of market price assessments, forecasting and advisory services, Benchmark enables the biggest decisions of the energy transition.


Benchmark’s price assessments are used to settle battery supply chain contracts and our lithium prices are the industry’s benchmark and reference pricing.


Our forecasting services are used by industry, government and financiers to make multi-billion dollar decisions on supply contracts, infrastructure investment and policy.