Britishvolt has secured £100m of Government funding to build the UK’s first ‘gigafactory’ battery plant in Northumberland.
The site is expected to start production in 2024 and reach full capacity by 2028, in order to meet the increased demand for electric vehicles (EVs) as the Government plans to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.
Britishvolt is one of two battery firms believed to have secured investment from the Government’s Automotive Transformation Fund. It will combine the cash with private funding.
Peter Rolton, Britishvolt’s executive chairman, said: “The UK automotive industry needs a local source of batteries. Chinese or other Asian imports are not going to be an option. There will be very, very significant shortfalls of batteries. We are absolutely vital to maintain the UK industry and support those jobs.”
The transformation and development of the 93-hectare site is underway by Britishvolt’s construction partner ISG. Advanced works are progressing to support the design process and the significant onsite infrastructure required to deliver a project of this scale and complexity.
The company is already in talks with potential clients, including Lotus.
Meryem Brassington, electrification propositions lead at Lex Autolease, said: “The rise of EV registrations is now at a UK high, however there is a real risk of demand outstripping supply creating a barrier to those wanting to make the transition. This strong signal of intent from the Government should provide comfort to the automotive industry and ensure the long-term supply of EV batteries across the country.
“That said, this is just one step in ensuring a green transition for the industry and country as a whole. If we are to achieve our ambitions, the Government cannot take their foot off the pedal and must continue to support the automotive industry to drive EV uptake on a mass-market scale.”
The UK will need to produce batteries with a capacity of 90 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year if it is to retain a car industry of a similar size, according to the Advanced Propulsion Centre. Current UK production capacity is less than 2GWh, but Britishvolt expects to produce 30GWh.
Two more potential battery manufacturing sites are currently trying to attract investment, including a £2.5bn facility near Coventry. The West Midalnds gigafactory could be production-ready in 2025, making it the UK’s largest single industrial facility. The other site is located in Somerset.