An Adelan-led feasibility study will verify the key role the Midlands vehicular supply chain can play in achieving net-zero by utilising fuel cells.
Fuel cell pioneer, Adelan, has secured funding for a feasibility study that will help to build on UK electric vehicle technology innovation to ramp up manufacturing capacity and associated economic value. The project, backed by the £1 billion UK Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), aims to establish the business case for a substantial uptick of investment in UK automotive manufacturing.
Created to support large-scale industrialisation of the electric vehicle supply chain, the initial focus of the ATF is on companies involved in fuel cells and batteries as well as other key parts of the supply chain, such as power electronics.
Under the Feasibility Study 3 programme, Birmingham-based Adelan, the UK’s oldest fuel cell company, leads a project to build UK capacity for fuel cell manufacture for the
automotive sector. The team will work to build sustainable supply chains using the aerospace expertise in supply chain management and coordination, building on prior experience of scaling-up manufacturing capabilities of Adelan fuel cells. Demonstrating the economies of scale on fuel cell manufacturing costs will dispel some of the misinformation propagated around the cost of fuel cells compared to incumbent technologies like diesel combustion, building customer confidence and accelerating market penetration.
Many of the world’s largest automotive suppliers already have an operating base in the
Midlands region and are building up their EV capabilities. Midlands-based top-tier
automotive suppliers and vehicle manufacturers such as ZF Group, Mahle, GKN and Jaguar Land Rover are investing in ramping up the EV supply chain and fuel cell companies like Adelan are central to their transformation of transport.
“The Midlands is the acknowledged heart of automotive manufacturing here in the UK and as we establish the foundations for sustainable transport, we have a real opportunity to maximise the value of the transport revolution here in the UK. With the help of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, this feasibility study will help us to scale up fuel cell manufacturing from 100s of units to the 100s of thousands of units needed,” says Dr Michaela Kendall, Adelan CEO.
A key part of efforts to reach the goals set out in the government’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution and its Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the ATF aims to create a high-value end-to-end electrified automotive supply chain by supporting strategically important capital and R&D investments across the sub-tier components and materials sector. UK businesses can, for example, apply for a share of up to £15 million from the Scale-up Readiness Validation (SuRV) fund for low-carbon technology like fuel cells. The opportunity for the UK upstream EV technology supply chain has a value of at least £24 billion, according to the ATF.
“Transport of people and goods contributes a significant proportion of UK carbon emissions. We must develop zero-emission alternatives to fossil fuels for transport and fuel cells are a real game-changer for transport and a whole host of other applications. Net-zero products must become a target for UK manufacturing and businesses in the Midlands have a real opportunity to work together and engineer the decarbonisation of vehicles using hydrogen and low carbon fuels,” says Stephen Phipson, CEO of UK manufacturing organisation Make UK.
This latest study from the ATF and Adelan builds on the recent H2GVMids project which
explored the capacity of Midlands-based manufacturing to supply the components necessary for a hydrogen fuelled 44-tonne heavy goods vehicle. That study revealed that 85% of the supply chain already exists in the region and that ramping up capacity to manufacture fuel cells at scale could increase that figure to 90% or even 95% of the total value proposition.
“The EV supply chain clearly represents a significant investment opportunity for the UK and the Midlands in particular. We can really build on our strengths to create a global powerhouse that will drive the transformation of transport worldwide and our sustainable future. It’s really now or never, we need to ask ourselves if the UK can afford not to invest in hydrogen and the related technologies we need like fuel cells,” added Dr Kendall.
“Technologies like the fuel cells manufactured by Adelan can support the UK in its transition towards a low-carbon transport system. This will require a high-tech and integrated manufacturing environment and a supporting supply chain. We need to support the development of this to create growth and provide opportunities for UK companies to establish themselves as manufacturers in the fuel cells market and to capitalise on the technological advancements developed in the UK. At the MTC we understand the need for streamlining and automating assembly lines and we support this through design for manufacturing reviews and working through strategic partnerships.
“We’re very much looking forward to working with industry leaders like Dr Kendall to make sure the Midlands retains its key role in the UK manufacturing sector,” said Huw Sullivan of the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).
“If we are to maximise the economic and environmental benefits from our home-grown
technology breakthroughs, scaling up manufacturing capacity is a fundamental requirement. We’re based in the Midlands and so fully understand the great strengths of the region’s engineering skills base and our experience in supply chains, design for manufacturing (DfM) and manufacturing techniques perfectly positions us to support that process. ANT Industries is incredibly proud to work with fuel cell pioneers like Adelan to develop the net zero technologies of the future and deliver them into people’s homes and businesses,” said Shaun Rowley, Managing Director at ANT Industries.