Written evidence from the Faraday Institution (ELV0047) 


Environment and Climate Change Committee

Electric Vehicles


Introduction to organisation

The Faraday Institution is the UK’s flagship programme for electrochemical energy storage research, skills development, market analysis and early-stage commercialisation. It brings together research scientists and industry partners on major projects with commercial potential to reduce battery cost, weight, and volume; improve performance and reliability, and develop whole-life strategies including recycling and reuse. The Faraday Institution regularly publishes evidence-based assessments of the market, economics, commercial potential, and capabilities for energy storage technologies and the transition to an electrified economy.



The development of domestic battery production is crucial for reducing the UK's reliance on foreign manufacturers and imports to meet electric vehicle (EV) demand anticipated from the 2030 and 2035 phase-out dates for internal combustion engine vehicles. The UK is making good progress with recent investments announced in Somerset and the Northeast. However, to satisfy the projected UK battery demand of 100 GWh by 2030, additional UK gigafactories are needed. Furthermore, long-term research is required to develop higher-performing and more cost-effective battery technologies to encourage consumer adoption of EVs. Currently, the UK faces recycling challenges due to inadequate recycling facilities. There is a need to develop domestic recycling infrastructure and deliver further technological advancements to enhance recycling techniques and processes.


Question responses

Q1. What are the main obstacles to the achievement of the Government’s 2030 and 2035 phase-out dates? Are the phase-out dates realistic and achievable? If not, what steps should the Government take to make the phase-out dates achievable?


The primary challenge in meeting the Government’s 2030 and 2035 phase-out dates is the readiness of the UK automotive sector to transition from manufacturing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to the production of battery electric vehicles (EVs). Crucial to this transition is the development of domestic battery manufacturing plants or gigafactories. While the UK could theoretically meet its phase-out dates by relying on foreign manufacturing, this would likely entail a significant dependence on Chinese vehicle imports, given that the rest of the global EV market and battery production capacity is also somewhat constrained, especially in the affordable mass-market sector.


The development of UK gigafactories before 2030 strengthens the likelihood of retaining automotive manufacturing within the UK. The reason why UK-based battery production is necessary is because it acts as an anchor to the manufacture of EVs. Economic factors, business models, regulatory considerations, and safety issues are the key drivers that incentivise battery production facilities to be constructed in close proximity to EV manufacturing hubs. While the plants are not necessarily adjacent to each other, they are often located within the same region of a country.

The approaches of Asian battery manufacturers targeting the European market underscore the significance of co-location. Manufacturers such as CATL, Samsung and SK Innovation have established battery plants in Europe, mainly in Hungary, to cater to German automotive companies from a European base. Similar patterns have been observed with other cell manufacturers. ACC has plans to construct cell manufacturing bases near Fiat and Opel factories in Italy and Germany respectively, while Northvolt has established cell manufacturing capabilities near a Volvo factory in Sweden. The construction of the battery manufacturing plant Agratas Energy Storage Solutions (Tata Sons) in Somerset with links to the JLR UK manufacturing sites in West Midlands is another example.


The UK is making good progress in developing new battery plants to be ready for production before 2030. The UK has been involved in EV battery cell and pack production since the AESC battery plant's inception in Sunderland in 2010. The plant was Europe's first gigafactory at the time, although with a capacity of only 2 GWh, the plant is relatively modest compared to others planned across the UK and Europe. There are also two larger gigafactories under development in the UK:  


However, more needs to be done if the UK is to meet potential UK demand or to be on a similar path to many other European competitors. The above UK battery manufacturing plants would reach a combined capacity of about 60 GWh by 2030, but this represents just over one-half of the 100 GWh UK battery demand anticipated by 2030. In addition to increasing the UK’s capacity to produce batteries, mass market EV production should also be strengthened in the UK. An example company is SAIC, a large auto-conglomerate who own the brand MG. SAIC are currently looking to build a new production base in Europe and are considering the UK as a possible destination.[1]


The Faraday Institution’s ‘UK Electric Vehicle and Battery Production Potential to 2040[2]’ study published in July 2022 estimated that vehicle and battery manufacturing demand would support the equivalent of five UK gigafactories (100 GWh) by 2030 and ten UK gigafactories (200 GWh) by 2040 (Figure 1), with each plant producing on average 20 GWh of battery capacity each year. Action is needed to both develop indigenous battery manufacturing plants in the UK as well as attract global battery manufacturing companies.


Figure 1: Potential demand for UK-produced batteries and UK gigafactories

Source: The Faraday Institution (July 2022). UK electric vehicle and battery production potential to 2040


Another challenge in the transition to EVs is the performance of EV batteries, as this directly impacts consumer demand. Consumers' preferences are heavily influenced by the cost of EVs, which in turn is significantly dictated by the cost and efficiency of batteries. Batteries that are not only cost-effective, high-performing, and durable but also safe and recyclable will increase consumer demand for EVs.


To achieve the low battery costs necessary for mass-market EVs, lithium-ion cells need to be manufactured at an enormous scale. However, making better batteries is not just an engineering and manufacturing problem but one of research, with further research breakthroughs being part of the story of influencing consumer demand for EVs.


The immediate research challenge lies in reducing battery costs to promote mass EV adoption; concurrently, future EVs must prioritize enhanced energy density, rapid charging, and cost-effective raw materials to meet both consumer expectations and environmental targets. Central to making advancements in the performance of batteries is therefore the role of research. Indeed, the ability to manufacture batteries domestically is also linked to having a strong research ecosystem which creates valuable intellectual assets. The Faraday Institution is already undertaking research aimed at improving battery performance, specifically aimed at making batteries cost-effective, high-performing, longer range, faster charging, long-lasting, safe, recyclable, and environmentally sound.


While lithium-ion is an established chemistry, there are still considerable opportunities for research to improve cost and performance, with research achieving step changes in the science of materials, characterisation, and modelling capability. Additional and continued research is also needed to explore new and novel materials, delve into fresh chemistries, minimise degradation, increase safety and reduce environmental costs. Research is also needed to support the anticipated shift towards low cobalt/high nickel cathodes and increased silicon in anodes by 2030, ensuring their longevity and stability amidst evolving energy demands.

Q6) What are the overall environmental benefits that would result from achieving the 2030 and 2035 targets?

Carbon emissions can be assessed through consideration of carbon outputs from: (1) the making of the vehicle; (2) the production of batteries; (3) the generation of electricity for EV charging and operation; and (4) the recycling process at the end of its life. In the first instance, the manufacturing of EVs is more carbon intensive than for ICE vehicles due to the added impact from manufacturing the battery pack for the EV. However, as EVs use energy far more efficiently than ICEs and have no tailpipe emissions, the use phase of an EV has a significantly smaller environmental impact than an ICE vehicle.


A number of studies have analysed the difference between the lifecycle carbon impacts of EVs and traditional petrol/diesel ICEs. The Faraday Institution estimates that the total lifecycle carbon emissions of a BEV will be about one-third that of an equivalent petrol ICE vehicle sold in 2025.[3] 'Transport & Environment' estimated that the total lifetime carbon emissions from petrol and diesel cars driven in Europe were on average triple that of an equivalent EV.[4] These environmental benefits increase over time, with EVs driven in the UK in 2030 estimated to have lifecycle emissions of 37 gCO2/km in contrast to 211 gCO2/km from petrol vehicles and 201 gCO2/km from diesel vehicles.[5] Ricardo also carried out an in-depth investigation on lifecycle impacts for the European Commission in 2020. The variance in emissions among countries is largely attributed to the carbon intensity of their electricity production.[6] The study was updated for the UK in 2021, estimating that EVs would deliver a 76% reduction in greenhouse gases compared to an equivalent petrol car by 2030.[7]


Q27. What are the current regulations and responsibilities of disposal and recycling for EVs, and how effective are they? How much of the battery can be recycled from a technical standpoint, and how much of that is economically feasible?

Recycling of many components of an EV (body, chassis, windows, tires, interior components etc) is similar to an ICE vehicle, but there are significant differences with regard to the electric drive train – electric motor, battery and power electronics – each of which are complex devices that are difficult to dismantle, and contain critical materials that are important for strategic reasons of national security as well as economic reasons, but are difficult to extract. The focus of our answer below is on recycling the EV battery, which falls within the Faraday Institution's remit.


Current regulations and responsibilities of disposal and recycling for EVs

The main regulations and responsibilities include the following:



The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 transposed the EU Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC) into UK law with the primary goal of minimizing the environmental impact of waste batteries. These regulations set collection and recycling efficiency rates, ban the landfill disposal of industrial and automotive batteries, mandate producer responsibility systems, and establish targets.


The ELV regulations ensure that a vehicle coming off the road is recycled at an approved treatment facility with a certificate of destruction accrediting this. The battery should be removed as part of the depollution of the vehicle. There is regulatory uncertainty as to the responsibility of the producer of an EV's battery once that battery is repurposed for use outside of the vehicle.


An updated EU Battery Directive to enhance circularity, sustainability, and traceability in batteries was adopted in June 2023.[8] This directive outlines requirements throughout the battery lifecycle, introduces new CE marking standards, and covers carbon footprint declarations, digital labelling, and a battery information repository. Recycling provisions set recovery efficiencies for 2027 and 2031, with recycled content benchmarks in new batteries for 2031 and 2036.


Existing regulations prohibit the disposal of EV batteries in landfills. Currently, the UK lacks facilities to recycle these batteries, leading often to their collection and overseas shipment for processing. A number of companies are piloting preprocessing facilities in the UK that can produce so-called ‘black mass’ – a mixture of shredded battery materials – also for shipment overseas. As EV sales grow, the urgency for creating optimal systems and onshore processes for recycling these batteries intensifies.


How effective are the current regulations and responsibilities.

The current regulations and responsibilities for recycling EVs are only partially effective. An essential step to make the recycling of EV batteries more effective is to ensure that batteries are designed in a way that enhances the re-use of components and the eventual recycling of materials at end-of-useful life. Design for recycling would enhance the potential for efficient recovery of the materials required to produce new batteries and hence mitigate increased demand for primary resources. Large improvements will be necessary if the end-of-life processing of EV batteries is to be economic for most battery chemistries.


Another important step is to ensure that new batteries are designed not just with the ability to be recycled effectively, but also with second-life applications in mind. Some batteries are already being designed this way, but much more needs to be done. For example, there is a growing interest in second-life applications for grid-based energy storage systems in a stationary environment, including for load-shifting, peak-shaving, and energy backup. Retired batteries from EVs can also be reused as part of a strategy to integrate wind power to minimise grid outage impacts and coupling with photovoltaic generation has also been examined.


Policy and regulation could be used to influence business models in favour of those that promote re-use and safe and effective end-of-life management. This will require a mix of carrot and stick within an extended producer responsibility (EPR) model. Targets could be set for recycling and other second-life use. For example, there could be allowances for OEMs exceeding the target to trade with those lagging behind (the carrot) alongside strict waste controls on disposal (the stick). However, continued research in this area is required as economic, accurate and widely accepted methods for predicting and validating their remaining useful lifetime and performance characteristics of retired EV batteries in second-life applications remain elusive.


A regulatory framework for recycling across the EV battery lifecycle requires the following:


Using regulation or incentives to change the model of ownership of EV batteries could be another step. Currently, the most common form of ownership is that an individual owns the vehicle and all the components. This means that the battery state of health is not something that the manufacturer can understand or influence before the used battery is returned. An alternative approach would be to use a battery-as-a-service model (BAAS). With this approach, the car components are bought and owned by the consumer, while the battery remains the property of the OEM. This would allow the life of the vehicle to be extended by replacing the battery pack at its end-of-life, prolonging the life of the vehicle. The OEMs would also be able to keep track of the use of the battery to monitor the health of the pack, as well as retain the mineral value that the pack has at its end of life.


The UK currently lacks significant EV battery recycling facilities and a strong investment pipeline, prompting many manufacturers to ship used lithium-ion batteries to European recyclers like the Umicore facility in Belgium. This approach is not only costly and logistically difficult but also short-term given the growing number of EV batteries nearing the end-of-life. Without early advancements in domestic recycling facilities, the UK faces a potential waste crisis in two parts: we will be forced to export materials of economic and strategic value that will thereby be lost to the UK; we will be forced to deal with increasing amounts of waste with little to no strategic or economic value. Government investment in midstream processing of recovered materials could be essential to ensure timely development of a UK recycling industry and effective in helping ensure greater security of supply of critical materials and should also help alleviate waste management issues.


How much of the battery is technically and economically recyclable? 

Most EV lithium-ion battery recycling worldwide is still largely reliant on high-temperature pyrometallurgical routes. Here the materials recovery rates are often less than 50% of pack materials recovered by mass. It should be noted that higher figures are sometimes quoted but these include materials that are consumed providing energy for the high-temperature process and thus ‘recycled’ in the sense of providing energy from waste.

Lower temperature hydrometallurgical processes being rolled out in various parts of the world promise eventually to increase this to 70% or more, but this is still well short of what will ultimately be required. To be able to recycle 95% of an EV battery pack by 2035 is one of the eight technical challenges set for the Faraday Battery Challenge by industry. To achieve this both significant improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency of recycling processes and full commitment to 'design for recycle' approaches will be required. Another path is to use a different recycling process: hydrometallurgical routes are currently being commercialised by some Asian companies (e.g., SungEel HiTech). In these processes, the battery components are dissolved into a solution and recovered through selective precipitation. Such methods are much more efficient than existing pyromettalurgical processes.

At present, industry is not well incentivised to improve materials recovery rates as the profitability of recycling depends exclusively on the value of metals such as cobalt, nickel and copper, and it is on these that current processes focus. The EU has proposed targets for the use of recycled lithium in new batteries. Even though this is not currently economic with respect to primary production, it should have a significantly lower environmental footprint. This is an approach that may need to be extended to other low-value battery components. Unfortunately, the drive to increase the accessibility of EVs by reducing battery costs through the use of lower value materials works directly against the profitability of recycling. Radical innovation in recycling processes is likely to be required if recycling and waste management processes are not to become a significant financial and environmental burden.





[1] SAIC confirms UK is a possibility for new MG factory

[2] https://www.faraday.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2040-Gigafactory-Report_2022_Final_spreads.pdf

[3] Faraday Insight 12 (November 2021). The UK: A Low Carbon Location to Manufacture, Drive and Recycle Electric Vehicles.

[4] Transport & Environment (April 2020). Does an electric vehicle emit less than a petrol or diesel?

[5] How clean are electric cars? www.transportenvironment.org/what-we-do/electric-cars/how-clean-are-electric-cars.

[6] Ricardo (July 2020). Determining the environmental impacts of conventional and alternatively fuelled vehicles through LCA, for the European Commission, DG Climate Action. (See Figure ES5 for country comparisons).

[7] Ricardo (November 2021). Lifecycle Analysis of UK Road Vehicles.

[8] European Parliament, Making batteries more sustainable, more durable and better-performing, June 2023.