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BritishVolt in sale and leaseback deal to fund battery gigafactory

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By Nick Flaherty

UK battery startup BritishVolt is receiving unspecified support from the UK Government through its Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), delivered by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

The company also announced a sale and lease-back deal with investors Tritax and investment fund abrdn to fund the build of the project, shell and core, as well as to develop the associated supplier park on the 93 hectare site. Tritax is a leading investor in UK and European logistics real estate and is joining BV in partnership with abrdn’s global real assets and investment capabilities.

BritishVolt plans to announce customer MoUs and R&D collaborations, relationships with UK automotive sports car brands and technology releases in the next few weeks.

The rationale is that BritishVolt will be the anchor for attracting further sections of the supply chain such as refining and recycling to co-locate on the site, boosting the value of the sale. 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.

The UK will need over 90GWh per annum of batteries for cars and light commercials by 2030 says the APC, 11 percent of the total demand across Europe.

The project will create around 3,000 direct high-skilled jobs and another 5,000 indirect roles in the wider UK supply chain to build enough cells each year for over 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs. The funding from the ATF is reported to be £100m, the same level reported as the backing for EnVision to build a battery gigafactory alongside the Nissan plant in Sunderland.

The ATF recently received an additional £300m of funding on top of the initial £500m backing. A call for small companies to apply for up to £135,000 for projects in the sixth wave of the Technology Developer Accelerator Programme (TDAP). This closes on 2nd February.

The value of the leaseback scheme has not been disclosed either.

“Tritax and abrdn are delighted to have been chosen to partner with BritishVolt to fund and deliver this at Blyth. The £3.8bn scheme will create a sustainable and green powered ecosystem for UK battery and EV manufacturing,” said James Dunlop, CEO of the Tritax Group. “We have a strong track record of identifying operators and projects at the epicentre of structural change and as such are proud to be working alongside BritishVolt, the UK Government and a world class professional team to unlock a greener future for UK plc”

The development of the site by ISG started in July last year. Advanced works are progressing to support the design process and the significant onsite infrastructure required for such a project.

“This is a pivotal moment for the UK automotive sector as it demonstrates that the UK is a highly competitive landscape for investment in the full R&D and manufacturing ecosystem for these vital technologies. I’m delighted that this has been recognised by Britishvolt, with whom we have been working since late 2019, and who have had a transformative impact in awakening the battery supply chain sector to opportunities in the UK,” said Julian Hetherington, Automotive Transformation Director, at the Advanced Propulsion Centre, which manages the Automotive Transformation Fund on behalf of the UK.

At full capacity, the gigaplant in Northumberland can provide 30GW of batteries, enough for over 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs per year for the automotive industry.

This follows news that another potential gigafactory in the West Midlands has received initial planning permission. Envision, which bought Nissan’s battery business, is closer to establishing a UK Gigafactory alongside the Nissan plant in Sunderland.

www.britishvolt.com

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