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Fri May 20 2022

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Plans advance for Northumberland ‘Gigaplant’

21 Jan The government has announced funding support for Britishvolt’s planned battery factory for electric vehicles and the project’s private investors have been confirmed.

An ‘in principle’ offer of funding has been made through the government’s Automotive Transformation Fund, which has also enabled a long-term partnership with Trixtax and Abrdn that will deliver £1.7bn in private funding.

Over the next few weeks Britishvolt said that it will make a series of follow up announcements including customer MoUs and R&D collaborations, relationships with UK automotive sports car brands and technology releases.

Its first full-scale electric-vehicle Gigaplant, which will be built in Northumberland, is receiving support from the government through its Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), delivered by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). The ATF is a funding programme aimed at creating a sustainable, zero-emission automotive supply chain in the UK. At the same time BV has announced that Tritax and Abrdn as partners to fund the build of the project, shell and core, as well as to develop the associated supplier park.

The transformation and development of the 93-hectare site is under way by Britishvolt’s construction partner ISG. Advanced works at the site started on 6th September 2021, following planning approval earlier in the year. The project will be built in phases, to keep up with technology advancements, and is due to have a total capacity of over 30GWh by the end of the decade. At full capacity, the Gigaplant will have produce enough battery cells for over 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs per year, intended primarily for the automotive industry. 

Britishvolt executive chairman Peter Rolton said: “This announcement is a major step in putting the UK at the forefront of the global energy transition, unlocking huge private sector investment that will develop the technology and skills required for Britain to play its part in the next industrial revolution.

“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.

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“I’m especially proud that this is such a major boost for Northumberland – the county of my birth - bringing around 3,000 direct highly-skilled jobs and another 5,000+ indirect wider supply chain roles into the region.”

According to APC research, by 2030 the UK will need over 90GWh per annum of batteries for cars and light commercials alone.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “Britishvolt’s plan to build a new Gigafactory in Northumberland is a strong testament to the skilled workers of the North East and the UK’s place at the helm of the global green industrial revolution.

“Backed by government and private sector investment, this new battery factory will boost the production of electric vehicles in the UK, whilst levelling up opportunity and bringing thousands of new highly-skilled jobs to communities in our industrial heartlands.”

Tritax Group CEO James Dunlop said: “Tritax and Abrdn are delighted to have been chosen to partner with Britishvolt to fund and deliver this at Blyth. The £3.8bn scheme will create a sustainable and green powered ecosystem for UK battery and EV manufacturing.  Blyth is mission critical infrastructure of national importance. The development will help realise the UK government’s commitment to deliver British made batteries for the automotive sector in a world leading energy cluster in the Northeast. We have a strong track record of identifying operators and projects at the epicentre of structural change and as such are proud to be working alongside Britishvolt, the UK Government and a world class professional team to unlock a greener future for UK plc.”

Julian Hetherington, automotive transformation director at the APC, said: “This is a pivotal moment for the UK automotive sector as it demonstrates that the UK is a highly competitive landscape for investment in the full R&D and manufacturing ecosystem for these vital technologies. I’m delighted that this has been recognised by Britishvolt, with whom we have been working since late 2019, and who have had a transformative impact in awakening the battery supply chain sector to opportunities in the UK.

“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. This is true transformation, unlocked by the government’s commitment to support green growth and levelling-up.”

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