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'We need to start taking the supply chain seriously' - Will Drury, Driving the Electric Revolution

Interview with Will Drury, Challenge Director of 'Driving the Electric Revolution', UK Research & Innovation (UKRI)

- '60% of the world's electricity goes through an electric motor' - Will Drury

The Critical Minerals Association's 'Perception of Mining Group' Chairs, Lucy Crane, Cornish Lithium & Ben Lepley, SRK Consulting did a brilliant interview with Professor Will Drury, covering the following:

  • What does your role as UKRI 'Driving the Electric Revolution' Challenge Director entail?

  • What is the impact of the UK Government's recent Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution on UKRI's work?

  • How important do you view the sourcing of critical minerals in supply chains in light of Brexit and the new rules of origin for batteries and electric vehicles?

  • How should we encourage the next generation of students to study STEM/ become engineers/ geoscientists?

Will Drury/ Driving the Electric Revolution

Will is an engineer by training and currently heads up the ‘Driving the Electric Revolution’ challenge at UK Research and Innovation. Driving the Electric Revolution received £80 million as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and is expected to attract £154 million in Industry co-investment. The challenge is funded by the UK Government through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Interview Highlights

Most people will think about cars when they hear 'Driving the Electric Revolution'- but our work is actually about power electronics, electric machines and how we use electricity. 60% of the world's electricity goes through an electric motor! There's a diverse range of applications for motors and the power electronics that control them. We're looking at how we can deliver UK supply chains in this area - processing, manufacturing etc. so we can increase domestic production.

If we want to be the Saudi Arabia of wind energy, we need motors, power conversion - we need to start taking the supply chain seriously.

We have to look at supply chain carbon footprints as a system and a globe - we can't just leave emissions to happen elsewhere. We need to know how much carbon is embedded within components. The aerospace sector knows the origin of everything - provenance of components is really important to ensure quality and safety.

We're investing £5.7 million in skills. It's not just 'how many more PhD students do we need' - we need people who can make things. We've got to make what we do exciting, interesting and relatable - and at a younger age. Engineers are incredibly intelligent, but they aren't the most self-publicising, so we don't say 'look at all these great solutions we've come up with.' But as engineers, we do need to shout out about our successes for the benefit of society and future generations.

Will, thank you very much for your time! Find out more about 'Driving the Electric Revolution' here.

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