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Britishvolt secures government support for UK battery ‘gigafactory’

Professional Engineering

How the Britishvolt 'gigaplant' in Blyth, Northumberland could look (Credit: Britishvolt)
How the Britishvolt 'gigaplant' in Blyth, Northumberland could look (Credit: Britishvolt)

A British ‘gigafactory’ that could produce batteries for 300,000 electric vehicles each year has received government backing.

With one in four new cars sold in the UK now battery powered or hybrid, the Britishvolt factory in Blyth, Northumberland, is aimed at supporting increased production of electric vehicles.

The Automotive Transformation Fund will provide about £100m of public funding, according to Sky, adding to £1.7bn in private funding from real estate fund manager Tritax and investment company Abrdn.

The project could create 3,000 direct high-skilled jobs and another 5,000 indirect roles in the wider UK supply chain.

Britishvolt executive chairman Peter Rolton called it a “truly historic day”. He said: “The news is the first step in creating a commercialised battery ecosystem that perfectly aligns with the existing R&D ecosystem. Britishvolt will be the anchor for attracting further sections of the supply chain, be it refining or recycling, to co-locate on the Britishvolt site. This not only shortens supply chains, but also allows for partners to access the abundance of renewable energy on site to truly power low-carbon, sustainable battery production.

“It will also allow us to catapult our unique tailormade business proposition on a global scale, with sites already selected for development in other countries.”

By 2030, the UK will need over 90GWh of battery capacity for cars and light commercial vehicles each year, according to APC research. The ‘gigaplant’ could have a total capacity of over 30GWh by the end of the decade.

“We have a vibrant and diverse industry, and Britishvolt’s significant investment in R&D and manufacturing will help establish competitive supply chains and satisfy this burgeoning demand – and in doing so will create thousands of highly-skilled, green jobs, regenerating a site that was previously home to the UK’s largest coal-fired power station,” said Julian Hetherington, automotive transformation director at the Advanced Propulsion Centre, which manages the Automotive Transformation Fund.

Advance works on the 93-hectare site started in September 2021 following a unanimous planning decision approval earlier in the year. The project will be built in phases to ensure it keeps up with future technology advances.

Britishvolt plans to make follow-up announcements including customer MoUs and R&D collaborations, relationships with blue chip UK automotive sports car brands, and technology releases in the coming weeks.

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