Britishvolt, a UK-based battery manufacturer, has narrowed its search for where to build the UK’s first gigafactory down to two locations, with a town in Wales being the leading contender.
The term gigafactory was first popularised by American car manufacturer Tesla, with it denoting a manufacturing facility that can produce more than 1GWh worth of batteries per year. Britishvolt is aiming to churn out more than 30GWh worth of batteries per year at its site, thus earning it the accolade of being the UK’s first gigafactory.
A total of 42 locations were considered for the UK’s first gigafactory, although Britishvolt has settled on just two for its final shortlist. The company notes that Bro Tathan in South Wales is currently the leading contender to receive the £1.2 billion of investment and 3,500 jobs that the gigafactory will bring.
In addition to the gigafactory, Britishvolt also plans to build a solar park alongside the factory, to support sustainable production of batteries and meet low carbon objectives.
Lars Carlstrom, CEO at Britishvolt, comments, “We aim to deliver a scalable, onshore production and diverse portfolio of world-class lithium-ion batteries, to support the unprecedented transition to electrification – primarily servicing the automotive and energy storage markets. After six months of careful analysis, Bro Tathan is the preferred choice due to a number of different factors. The Welsh Government has welcomed us with open arms and impeccable due diligence, and the region meets crucial criteria including import/export accessibility, availability of labour and skilled staff, along with convenient geographical proximity to customers and local industrial companies.
“The sheer scale of this project means our gigafactory will have one of the top three largest single footprints in Europe. The plant will be one km long and 30 metres tall, needing 80 plus hectares of land, and the energy intensive nature of producing lithium ion cells means nearby renewable sources are of huge importance. Our ambition is to become one of the greenest battery producers worldwide, which will be facilitated through the creation of our very own solar park, ensuring a near carbon neutral electricity input.
“Our state of the art and high efficiency gigaplant will employ at least 3,500 local Welsh people. These will be across a wide range of disciplines and will create a local ecosystem of 10,000 to 15,000 further jobs for the wider supply chain – including material suppliers, contractors and local services. By the third quarter of 2023, we plan for the first stage of our plant to be fully functional, and envision that between 40 and 60% of the initial £1.2 billion of investment will be injected directly into the chosen community, representing a real catalyst for growth in the local economy and the UK.”
With the battery industry forecast to be worth £5 billion domestically by 2025, and the demand for lithium-ion cells across a number of industries, including vehicle electrification, already increasing dramatically, Britishvolt wants to get its site off the ground as quickly as possible. It doesn’t just want to increase battery production in the UK, however, the firm is also keen on leveraging the UK’s ‘world-leading’ lithium ion battery research development and academic community to ensure the country retains a commercial and technical lead.