Britishvolt selects Northumberland site for battery gigaplant

UK investor in battery technologies Britishvolt has selected a site in Blyth, Northumberland to build Britain’s first battery gigaplant.

battery gigaplant
Rendering of the planned gigaplant at Blyth (Image: Britishvolt)

Construction is planned to begin in Summer 2021, with an aim of producing ‘world class’ lithium-ion batteries by the end of 2023. The gigaplant will be built on a 95-hectare site, formerly the site of the Blyth Power Station.

Britishvolt confirmed that a total of £2.6bn will be invested into the plant, which aims to employ up to 3,000 highly skilled people by its final phase in 2027, providing up to 5,000 jobs in the wider supply chain and producing over 300,000 lithium-ion batteries for the UK automotive industry.

The building of a gigaplant ties in with prime minister Boris Johnson’s ten-point plan for the UK’s green recovery, and has been described by Britishvolt as ‘strategically important’ for the UK automotive industry to maintain competitive advantage as we accelerate toward an increasingly electrified future.

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CEO of Britishvolt, Orral Nadjari, said that securing the site in Blyth was a ‘tremendous moment’ for UK industry, commenting: “Blyth meets all of our exacting requirements and could be tailor made. It is on the doorstep of major transport links, easily accessible renewable energy and the opportunity for a co-located supply chain. [It] meets our target to make our gigaplant the world’s cleanest and greenest battery facility.”

Renewable energy will be used to power the gigaplant, including the potential to use hydro-electric power generated in Norway and transmitted 447 miles via the world’s longest inter-connecter from the North Sea Link project.

Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy said that the announcement would have a massive impact on the constituency and surrounding area for decades to come, adding that the North East had not seen anything comparable since Nissan invested in Sunderland more than 35 years ago.

Following the announcement, Dr Amrit Chandan, CEO and co-founder of clean-tech company Aceleron, expressed concern over the ‘elephant in the room’ – battery waste. “EVs alone are estimated to produce 11 million tonnes of waste by 2030, enough to fill Wembley Stadium almost 20 times,” he said. “This gigafactory is an opportunity for the UK to showcase both its world leading innovation to deliver net zero energy, alongside net zero waste.

“By futureproofing battery design to enable easy servicing, repurposing and reuse we can design out battery waste while creating a booming service employment market that will further drive our green industrial revolution.”