What’s the first country you think of when you think of battery production? UK? Of course not. But it is apparently getting a battery gigafactory. The name of the company, though I haven’t seen it before, isn’t all that surprising, though. Britishvolt will apparently build a 30 gigawatt-hour (GWh) battery “gigaplant”/gigafactory in Wales. It will be powered by a 200 megawatt (MW) solar power plant.
The location is the former RAF base at Bro Tathan, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales. Both pouch and cylindrical cells will be manufactured there, mostly for electric vehicles. £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) of investment is expected at the start, potentially creating 3,500 jobs, with construction expected to commence in early 2021. Battery production is expected to begin by 2023.
“After six months of careful analysis, the site was narrowed down from over 40 locations, due to a number of factors including: import/export accessibility, availability of labour and skilled staff, and convenient geographical proximity to customers and local industrial companies,” Britishvolt states.
“Both parties [Britishvolt and the government of Wales] have now signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), to collaborate on the potential of building the UK’s first full cycle battery cell gigaplant subject to UK government funding through the Automotive Transformation Fund, to produce lithium ion cylindrical and pouch cells primarily servicing the automotive market.”
While the UK doesn’t have a single battery factory at the moment, it does have good battery research going on at some of its universities. Britishvolt is looking to tap into that expertise.
“As the birthplace of lithium ion, the UK remains globally renowned for its academic excellence in research and development — with an abundance of home grown talent for Britishvolt to take advantage of,” said Orral Nadjari, CEO and Founder at Britishvolt. “We believe this will not only be vital for the manufacturing and automotive industries, but for the future growth of the UK economy, as the demand for battery production escalates in years to come. In the absence of any onshore battery production, 114,000 direct British automotive jobs are predicted to be lost by 2040, and we want to ensure that this doesn’t happen.” Presumably, the lost jobs would be jobs related to the manufacture of gas/diesel car engines as well as other components of an internal combustion engine powertrain.
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