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Lithium, Brexit and Global Britain: Onshoring battery production networks in the UK

Bridge, Gavin; Faigen, Erika

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Erika Faigen


As demand for electrical energy storage scales, production networks for lithium-ion battery manufacturing are being re-worked organisationally and geographically. The UK - like the US and EU - is seeking to onshore lithium-ion battery production and build a national battery supply chain. Governmental, industrial and research actors are engaged in securing battery mineral materials and developing battery manufacturing capacity, in the context of the country's exit from the EU and a perceived ‘global battery race’ in which geopolitical goals shape links with new and old partners. We identify the primary global networks of lithium mining and refining, battery chemical production, technology development and finance in which the UK's battery manufacturing capacity are increasingly embedded. We foreground the role of the UK state, and how it has sought to assemble discrete capacities in automobile manufacturing, battery R&D, materials chemistry, minerals exploration, mining and green finance into a national battery sector. We mobilise a Global Production Network (GPN) perspective to highlight the cross-border geographical and organisational structures through which onshoring is taking place. We extend GPN research on the role of the state by showing how the UK's growing lithium networks intersect with a plural and differentiated state accumulation project of green industrial transformation. We outline the selective nature of this state accumulation project, highlight instances of coupling creation as the state seeks to strategically couple regional assets with firms in GPNs, and point to a convergence of industrial and innovation policy characteristic of the entrepreneurial state.


Bridge, G., & Faigen, E. (2023). Lithium, Brexit and Global Britain: Onshoring battery production networks in the UK. The Extractive Industries and Society, 16, Article 101328.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 10, 2023
Online Publication Date Sep 22, 2023
Publication Date 2023-12
Deposit Date Dec 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Dec 4, 2023
Journal The Extractive Industries and Society
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Article Number 101328
Public URL


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