Battery Test Facility Opens in UK

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WAE Fortescue to develop battery systems for Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Kidlington

A zero emission technology innovation centre in Oxfordshire will focus on battery and power train development for motor sports

Automotive technology organisation, Fortescue WAE is contributing to increased job opportunities, manufacturing and green energy in the United Kingdom with the opening of a new technical innovation centre at Kidlington in Oxfordshire.

The £18.5 million site will be home to 300 highly skilled workers, with up to 50 more jobs to be created across the next year, adding to Fortescue’s pledge to create over 1,000 jobs across the company’s sites in Oxfordshire and deliver its commitment to keeping jobs and manufacturing in Britain.

The Kidlington facility will focus on the technical development, testing and prototype production of batteries and zero emission powertrains for a wide range of applications, including motorsports, mining haul trucks, and other off-road and automotive applications.

Operating within the breadth of these applications, the new site will exclusively develop and produce batteries for the first generation of Extreme H, a new motorsports series beginning in February 2025.

Fortescue WAE is already the battery provider for the Extreme E Series, The Extreme H car will use a similar powertrain used in Extreme E. The chassis has been improved to address the safety requirements associated with the use of hydrogen. The key differentiating factor in Extreme H will be that a hydrogen fuel cell combined with a smaller battery will replace the larger battery as the principal means of on board energy storage (H2fuel/battery).

According to Fortescue’s Executive Chairman and Founder, Dr Andrew Forrest, this new technical innovation centre in Kidlington will not only drive the leading edge of decarbonised motorsports, but also lead the way to decarbonising heavy industry as well.

“Fortescue bought Britain’s best racing battery maker not only to help decarbonise our own operations, but to help other businesses to adopt zero emission technologies as well, and cement UK as a green technology and manufacturing leader,” he says.

Electric Mining Operations

Among the first batteries produced at the Kidlington site will be those used to power Fortescue’s prototype 240 tonne mining haul trucks in Australia.

The battery system, which is currently being tested on site in the Pilbara, is integral to Fortescue’s 6.2 billion dollar decarbonisation strategy to help eliminate fossil fuels from its terrestrial iron ore operations, which includes replacing its existing diesel-fuelled fleet with battery electric and green hydrogen powered haulage trucks.

Fortescue WAE’s CEO, Judith Judson believes that the latest investment in the innovation centre represents a milestone in the evolution of Fortescue WAE into a global zero emission technology and manufacturing company that goes beyond its existing scope.

She says that both Fortescue and other companies need the battery and green technology equipment that will be manufactured at Kidlington in order to decarbonise their operations. The investment will show that moving to zero emission systems and away from fossil fuels is not only possible, but can be profitable as well.

“The knowledge we have learned from racing is applied to everything we do, including our mining haul truck battery systems and other electric powertrains,” says Judson.

The Kidlington site is co-located on the Oxford Technology Park and will have the capacity to produce and test up to 500 prototype battery systems per year with a total production capacity of 50 MWh/annum.

Jonathan Newell
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