//South Yorkshire battery innovator receives £100m investment from India’s largest company

Published 11th January 2022 at 1:04pm

India’s largest company, owned by Asia’s richest person, made a big play for diversifying into the battery industry, by acquiring a 100% shareholding in Sheffield-based Faradion for an enterprise value of £100m last month. Reliance Industries’ subsidiary Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd (RSENL) will also invest £25 million as primary investment as growth capital to accelerate commercial roll out.

Founded by Dr Chris Wright, Dr Jerry Barker and Ashwin Kumaraswamy in 2011, Faradion is one of the world’s leading battery technology companies. The Faradion team’s first market visit to India was in November 2019, where they hosted events with CxOs from the battery, electric vehicle (EV) and energy storage industries in Bangalore and Delhi, and launched a report on the potential of the technology to support India’s Make in India vision.

The Reliance announcement underscores the importance of sodium-ion technology as an integral part of a world beyond lithium, and the UK’s role as a global hub of innovation.

The transition from lithium-ion batteries batteries to alternative technologies is a necessary one: EV batteries today contain lithium, cobalt and copper, which are expensive raw materials whose mining leads to adverse environmental impacts. Lithium has also become constrained due to restricted availability and increased prices.

Faradion’s technology provides similar performance to conventional lithium chemistries while being safer, more sustainable, and providing greater thermal stability. The batteries already boast performance as good as Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries at 150-160 Wh/kg, with a significant runway for rapid improvements.

It has a competitively superior, strategic, wide-reaching and extensive IP portfolio covering several aspects of sodium-ion technology.

The investment into Yorkshire is important because a global arms race is underway to build ‘gigafactories’, which are giant battery plants that can produce hundreds of thousands of packs to support the auto industry as it goes electric. It is a national security issue, to secure essential supply chains. Having a British champion is important in helping British industry be competive over the coming decade, in a market where China is increasingly growing dominant.

The SMMT’s Full Throttle report calculates that by 2030 (when a ban on Internal Combustion Engines starts) the UK auto industry will require at least 60 gigawatt hours of locally sourced batteries. That would support the annual assembly of one million new cars, below today’s 1.3m capacity. A shortage in providing this will lead to large-scale job losses in the auto sector.

Reliance will use Faradion’s state-of-the-art technology at its proposed fully integrated energy storage gigafactory as part of the Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex project at Jamnagar in the western state of Gujarat in India.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries, said, “We welcome Faradion and its expierenced team to Reliance family. This will further strengthen and build upon our ambition to create one of the most advanced and integrated New Energy ecosystem and put India at the forefront of leading battery technologies. The sodium-ion technology developed by Faradion provides a globally leading energy storage and battery solution which is safe, sustainable, provides high energy density and is significantly cost competitive. In addition, it has wide use applications from mobility to grid scale storage and back-up power.”

James Quinn, CEO of Faradion, said: “Faradion has been one of the first to champion sodium-ion battery technology. Reliance is the perfect partner for supporting Faradion’s growth in the rapidly expanding Indian market and to jointly speed up the transformation of the global energy market. Becoming part of the Reliance group validates the incredible work our team has done in advancing sodium-ion technology.”

Dr Chris Wright, Chairman and Co-Founder of Faradion, said: “Dr Jerry Barker, Ashwin Kumaraswamy and I founded Faradion in 2010 to develop sodium-ion technology and bring it to market, with funds from Mercia Asset Management. This deal with Reliance firmly establishes Faradion’s sodium-ion batteries as an integral part of the global value chain for cheaper, cleaner, more sustainable energy for decades to come.”

About Faradion

Faradion is the world leader in Sodium-ion battery technology that provides low cost, high-performance, safe and sustainable energy. Its proprietary technology delivers leading-edge, cost-effective solutions for a broad range of applications; including mobility, energy storage, backup power and energy in remote locations. For more information visit: www.faradion.co.uk.