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UK’s First Battery Gigaplant moves a Step Closer as Manufacturer Britishvolt & the Welsh Government Sign Landmark MoU

Originally published by Britishvolt

London, Manufacturer Britishvolt is pleased to announce that it has signed an MOU with the Welsh Government as both parties work together on plans to develop a commercially viable 30 GWh battery manufacturing plant, and supplementary 200MW solar plant, at the former RAF base at Bro Tathan, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales.

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. Both parties 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.

A successful outcome of the partnership could enable the scalable production of a world-class portfolio of lithium ion batteries, creating and expanding an onshore manufacturing ecosystem and supply chain to support the country’s “Road to Zero” emissions targets, and unprecedented transition to electrification. It is anticipated that the initial £1.2 billion of investment from the company could eventually lead towards up to 3,500 jobs. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2021.

Orral Nadjari, CEO and Founder at Britishvolt comments:

We are immensely proud to announce plans to work exclusively with the Welsh Government to develop the UK’s landmark battery gigaplant. Wales has welcomed us with open arms and exceptional due diligence and we believe the country has a vast untapped potential. Hiring local people, including those currently out of work, and developing strong relationships with nearby educational facilities will be a priority for us to ensure a stream of skilled staff. Britishvolt will also encourage other businesses to invest in the region with the aim of creating a ‘hub’ of battery electrification – building out our very own infrastructure and supply chain ecosystem, which will create thousands more jobs.

Orral Nadjari continues:

The construction of the solar farm will not only ensure our gigaplant has a near carbon neutral electricity input – complementing our goal of becoming one of the greenest battery producers worldwide – but also provide cleaner energy to the local area. The pandemic is acting as a catalyst, creating new markets for greener technologies, and highlighting the importance of localized supply chains – which Britishvolt has the backing and resources to drive forward.

Orral Nadjari concludes

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. 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.”

This follows the previous post:

Britishvolt, Welsh government ink MOU for building UK’s first EV battery gigaplant

The plant is aiming for commercially viable capacity of 30 GWh, staggered over three tranches, with a 200-MW solar plant alongside to assist in making the manufacturing of batteries as green as possible, it said.

The site is a former Royal Air Force base at Bro Tathan in South Wales’ Vale of Glamorgan.

Speaking with S&P Global Platts, Orral Nadjari, Britishvolt CEO and founder, said all the initial funds are in place to move forward with the project, and progress to the next phase. He also said that by the first quarter of 2021 the company could be in a position to list publicly, which would help with raising the around £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) needed to get the facility up and running.

There is enough money in the bank [to push forward] and start talking to the end-users and find out exactly what they want,” he said.

He added that capital markets are “aligned” to move the economy toward a greener, sustainable future.

Industry sources tell Platts that having a solid environmental, social and governance footprint makes raising money a far easier process.

You can’t avoid ESG now, it’s becoming part of investors’ DNA. You need to be on the ball and fully through on commitments. If you serve lip-service you’ll be caught out by savvy money managers,” said one senior banker.

Britishvolt is fully embedded in a sustainable narrative, aiming to be one of the greenest battery producers worldwide.

After six months of analysis, the site was chosen due to a number of factors including import/export accessibility, availability of labor and skilled staff, and geographical proximity to customers and local industrial companies.

Both parties 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,” the company said.

The Automotive Transformation Fund is a long-term program designed to enable the UK to build a comprehensive electric vehicle supply chain.

Local supply chains essential

A successful outcome of the partnership could enable the scalable production of a world-class portfolio of lithium ion batteries, creating and expanding an onshore manufacturing ecosystem and supply chain to support the country’s “Road to Zero” emissions targets, and unprecedented transition to electrification, the company said. It is anticipated that the initial £1.2 billion of investment from the company could eventually lead to up to 3,500 jobs. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2021, with first output of batteries by 2023.

The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the need for localized supply chains, for both job security and the good of the planet.

When it comes to the plant’s operations, Britishvolt Chief Strategy Officer Isobel Sheldon told Platts there will be a “parallel approach,” one where cell design technology can be licensed with a fallback position of a homegrown design. Britishvolt intends to create batteries to suit specific automotive customers. What will not be happening is toll manufacturing, whereby the manufacturer simply makes batteries stamped with other companies’ brands, she said.

Both Sheldon and Nadjari said the time is right for Britishvolt as the world moves out of the pandemic and eyes a green recovery, one that shields a local automotive industry that itself is in a state of flux as it moves from a traditional internal combustion engine business model toward electrification of the fleet.

UK needs battery manufacturing

“The battery industry needs to come to the UK,” said Sheldon. “The ambitious plans we have are also going to come with social responsibility, bringing jobs to Wales and protecting the UK’s auto industry.”

The UK’s new car market began a “tentative restart” in June, with electric vehicles continuing to increase market share, but total registrations were still down by over a third compared with a year ago, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said July 6.

While it’s welcome to see demand rise above the rock-bottom levels we saw during lockdown, this is not a recovery and barely a restart,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT’s chief executive.

 

Many of June’s registrations could be attributed to customers finally being able to collect their pre-pandemic orders, and appetite for significant spending remains questionable,” he added.

Featured Image courtesy of Bro Tathan, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales.

 
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