The government is to provide financial support to a new gigaplant in Northumberland that will produce batteries for electric vehicles.
While no figure has been formally announced, the government is believed to be spending around £100m to help the plant get up and running. The project is expected to cost around £3.8bn in total with around £1.7bn of that allocated to the plant’s building.
Last July, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee warned that hopes for large battery factories in the UK may not come to fruition without increased public financial support.
The plant will generate approximately 3,000 high-value jobs with a further 5,000 indirect roles in the wider UK supply chain.
It will have the capacity to build enough cells each year for over 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs, equivalent to 25 per cent of current UK vehicle manufacture.
UK car production has been struggling since the Covid-19 pandemic hit due to a combination of factors including disruption from the virus itself, the global chip shortage, Brexit and strong competition from foreign manufacturers. But despite recent figures showing that some of the worst output since 1984, production of electric vehicles has been ramping fast as demand soars.
Britishvolt, which is leading development on the gigaplant, said it was confident there would be significant domestic demand for its batteries as British consumers bought more electric cars in 2021 than the previous five years combined.
The government is funding the plant as part of its 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution” as well as its recent Transport Decarbonisation Plan.
“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,” said Peter Rolton, Britishvolt executive chairman.
“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.”
According to APC research, the UK will need over 90GWh per annum of batteries by 2030 for cars and light commercials alone which represents over 11 per cent of the total demand across Europe.
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