Construction begins on UK’s first battery gigafactory

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Construction has begun on the UK’s first full-scale independent battery ‘gigafactory’, operator Britishvolt said.


Contractor ISG this morning started work on the first phase of building the battery factory for the startup manufacturer on the former Blyth Power Station site near the village of Cambois in Northumberland.


Britishvolt, which is aiming to begin battery production around the end of 2023, said preliminary works were beginning on-site ahead of a main construction programme that is expected to start in “late autumn/early winter”.


This initial phase will see the site cleared and preparatory work carried out for the services and infrastructure that will support construction activity, said Britishvolt project director Richard McDonell.


After the first phase is complete and production begins, the company aims to expand the size of the 2.7mln sq ft factory in phases towards total capacity by around the end of 2027 of enough battery cells for around 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs per year, mostly for the automotive industry.


“Today is a historic day as it marks the start of construction on the UK’s premier Gigaplant, Britishvolt – a landmark event for UK manufacturing and the automotive industry on the road to zero,” he said.


“This is an exciting announcement and marks the tangible start and progress of the main factory building where we will be producing some of the world’s lowest carbon, sustainable battery cells to help accelerate the transition to a low carbon future.”


Planning permission was obtained in early July from Northumberland County Council, which has high hopes for the factory bringing around 3,000 to the area.


Britishvolt is privately owned by Swedish entrepreneur Lars Carlstrom and Abu Dhabi financier Orral Nadjari, with backing from FTSE 100 commodities broker and mining giant Glencore, which took a stake last month.


With over GBP2bn of cash needed to complete construction, a listing in either London or New York is reported to be under consideration by management, via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) transaction which would see the private company merge with a cash-rich listed shell.

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