An Interview with Claire Spooner from the Faraday Battery Challenge


Here at The Battery Cells and Systems Expo, we are delighted to have had the opportunity to interview Claire Spooner, Deputy Director for the exciting £541 million Faraday Battery Challenge; working to transform the UK to be the go-to place for Electric Vehicle Batteries as part of the UK’s Net Zero target. Claire has held previous roles across UK Research and Innovation. At the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council she was Head of Decarbonising Transport and Head of Advanced Materials.

Claire took the time to answer our questions on her career, the UK’s battery business and steps towards becoming Net Zero- as well as what she is looking forward to at the show!

Q: As part of the Faraday Battery Challenge is to help new UK businesses develop commercial battery technologies, how are you implementing practices to do this?

We are undertaking quite a lot at the moment –  we just closed our recent competition SME Credit competition which supports SMEs to move UK battery innovations from technological potential towards commercial capability though providing credits to access to the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and enable SMEs to demonstrate technologies at suitable scales to customers.

We also work on landscape activities such as the report by Dealroom on Electric Vehicle Tech in the UK 2023 which highlights that the UK has startup representation at every stage of the EV battery supply chain, from material production to end of life. The UK EV Battery Tech Start Up Ecosystem is now valued at $2.7billion. Providing this evidence to the community can help investors understand the scale of the opportunity in the UK.

And our delivery partner, the Faraday Institution undertakes a lot of work in this space, working on standards with the BPX initiative which will enable information flow across the battery industry, reducing cost and time to market and stimulating innovation, to providing an Entrepreneurial Fellowship programme that supports researchers across the UK looking to create new businesses and commercialise battery technologies.

With our CR&D projects we have supported over 149 organisations across the value chain helping to build new industry and academic collaborations building new research and innovation opportunities. There really is a vibrant offering across the landscape. Do contact us for more information, we’d love to hear from you


Q: The project states that ‘the deadline for the transition to zero emission vehicles has tightened since the challenge launched and at a time of many new and unexpected global challenges’- what challenges are you facing currently, and how are you working to overcome them?

Like everyone, our delivery was impacted by the global pandemic – but the challenge still managed to build national battery manufacturing scale-up facility, UKBIC which is – essentially a mini Gigafactory located in Coventry!

But more recently, the international landscape has shifted with new trade rules coming into play such as the Inflation Reduction Act in the US which is providing substantial support in the areas of clean energy and changing how and where organisations may prioritise investing with incentives to build to manufacture in the US.

But there are regulations closer to home such as the Rules of Origin legislation which started provisionally being implemented in 2021 before becoming fully operational in 2027. The RoO state that an originating battery pack must have either 65% UK/EU content for the cell or 70% for the battery pack by 2027.

Lastly, UK legislation to end the sale of new petrol and diesel petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, was brought forward from 2035 to meet net zero requirements.  

With work with our delivery partners and the wider ecosystem such as the Advance Propulsion Centre, we are working to overcoming these varied challenges providing resources, support, insights and innovation opportunities for organisations to help them respond.


Q: You career is heavily focused on decarbonising and reducing emissions, how do you think that your previous experience has prepared you for the challenges that the current Faraday Project presents?

Decarbonising the transportation systems is critical for the UK to meet its climate obligations and achieve net zero by 2050. Emissions from the UK transport system have remained stubbornly around 27% since 1990. A technological step change is required to reduce these emissions, with battery electric vehicles see as a key solution to reduce emissions from vehicles.

My previous roles in Decarbonising Transport, and Advanced Materials at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and in the Environment team at Economic and Social Research Council have informed my current role in the Faraday Battery Challenge – enabling me to loop in my interdisciplinary background on topics such as supply chains, critical mineral resources, understanding behavioural change, commercialisation pathways, upskilling and reskilling needs, recycling and the circular economy. I feel as though my career path has really been building up to my work at the FBC.


Q: Having previously worked for the Arts and Humanities Research council, what caused you to move into Economic and environmental based roles?

It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. I had had a fantastic time at AHRC working on the digital transformations theme but was ready for a change. I had been developing an interest in water sustainability, or more accurately sanitation through a fantastic book written by Rose George called The Big Necessity. It details the impacts access to water and sanitation can make – with freely available provision of sanitation improving health, enabling economic activity and providing places of sanctuary. This book inspired me to join the environment team at ESRC. I was lucky enough to work on the Water-Energy-Food nexus which details the interplay between these 3 fundamental resources – and my interest in wider environmental challenges morphed from there. I have been fortunate enough to work on scoping many challenges and priority themes focussed on decarbonisation, sustainability, biodiversity, and the need to deliver Net Zero, and even had the opportunity to attend and present at COP26 – and all these efforts stem from reading that book.  


Q: You are sitting on a panel regarding overcoming growing battery and EV supply chain issues- what is the biggest issue the industry is facing in regard to this?

Building resilience in the supply chain is key – and access to critical minerals is the foundation of this supply chain. Batteries require many minerals and metals from lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and graphite. I was fortunate enough to visit Australia who are the worlds largest lithium producing nation and understand their activities to extract the critical minerals. It was fantastic to see such high consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues that their mining industry has at its core.  Ensuring sustainable critical minerals are freely available is a massive issue as the whole world clammers for these valuable minerals to build the green technologies tech from.


Q: What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming Battery Cells and Systems Expo?

It is great to start networking with the community again, and lovely to see it picking up as an activity. With The Battery Cells and Systems Expo being co-located with the Vehicle Electrification Expo, the Advanced Materials Show and the Advanced Ceramics Show a really vibrant atmosphere is created and there are fantastic opportunities to build new networks, re-establish old ones and ensure the crucial interdisciplinary connections that create such interesting research and innovation opportunities are developed.  It truly is a unique event and one the community at large shouldn’t miss.


Claire will be speaking at the upcoming Battery Cells and Systems Expo on the leadership discussion panel regarding ‘How Can Europe Overcome Growing EV and Battery Supply Chain Issues?’ on Day One of the show, from 10:15 to 11:05.

UKRI- Innovate UK will be exhibiting at the upcoming show, visit them on stand 906 for more!