The UK is set to move forward with its second Gigafactory, with a battery manufacturing facility at Coventry Airport receiving the green light from local authorities.
Dubbed the West Midlands Gigafactory, it will be the second facility of its kind in the UK capable of producing lithium-ion batteries for the automotive and energy storage industries at scale. The first is set to be located in Blyth, Northumberland, developed by Britishvolt, who initially planned to debut its first facility in Wales.
The West Midlands is the ideal location for a UK Gigafactory, as it’s local to many of the UK’s major car manufacturing plants. That includes Jaguar Land Rover’s factory in Solihull and London Electric Vehicle Company’s plant in Coventry. Coincidentally, the West Midlands is also where Britishvolt has opted to place its headquarters, despite building its first Gigafactory in Northumberland.
So, what’s the next step for the West Midlands Gigafactory? Well, today it received the nod from Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council, but now outline planning permission will need to be formally issued and the Government will need consulting. In order to do that, a legal agreement will need to be drawn up between the parties behind the West Midlands Gigafactory, which includes Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd, which is expected in March 2022.
After all the approvals are in place, work should begin on the West Midlands Gigafactory, which is estimated to bring £2.5 billion worth of investment into the local area, creating up to 6,000 new highly skilled jobs, alongside thousands more in the wider supply chain.
The factory itself is supposed to contribute to the UK’s green revolution, powered by 100% renewable energy, with the plans promising one of the UK’s largest rooftop array of PV panels to harness solar energy. Additionally, on-site storage should store any leftover solar power for when solar energy alone cannot power the factory.
Production is not expected to begin until 2025, although once operational, it’s expected that the factory will be capable of not only producing new lithium-ion batteries but also recycling old ones. Plus, upon reaching its target capacity, the West Midlands Gigafactory will be capable of providing up to 60 GWh of batteries by 2030.
Mike Murray, Project Director, commented, “This is an important milestone for the West Midlands Gigafactory. With outline planning permission supported, the site has everything in place that future investors, likely to be drawn from the global battery industry, need for a state-of-the-art Gigafactory.
“Thanks to this decision, we are now in a strong position to progress our discussions with the global automotive and energy storage industries.“Located at the heart of the UK’s automotive industry, the Gigafactory is closer to almost every car manufacturing plant in the UK than any of the other proposed or Gigafactories under construction making it an ideal location for global battery manufacturers.”
The West Midlands Gigafactory and Britishvolt factory in Northumberland are likely to not remain alone for long, with the UK needing more capacity if it hopes to keep up with demand for the big energy transition. In fact, according to the former boss of Aston Martin, the UK will need at least four gigafactories in order to prevent losing its entire automotive market.