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Race quickens to develop UK’s lithium-ion manufacturing capacity

Wed, 11/03/2021 - 10:18 -- Paul Crompton

Plans to develop lithium-ion gigafactories in the UK are progressing this week with news from two companies aiming to deliver a combined 95GWh of capacity in the next decade.

Technology firm Envision AESC— a joint venture formed in 2007 between Nissan Motor Company, NEC Corporation and NEC Tokin Corporation— has gained formal planning permission for its manufacturing plant at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland, UK.

The initial 9GWh-capacity plant will form part of a £1billion ($1.4 billion) partnership with Nissan UK and Sunderland City Council to create an electric vehicle hub to support EV production.

Planning decision secures Envision’s investment of £450 million ($619 million), and paves the way for potential future investment of £1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) on the site to generate 35GWh capacity by 2030.

Construction of the new building is due to begin in 2022 to support battery production in 2024.

The company’s existing Sunderland plant has been supplying batteries to Nissan for the Korean firm’s LEAF electric vehicle for the last nine years.

The gigafactory will be 100% powered by renewable energy and supported by an £80 million ($110 million) microgrid being developed by Sunderland City Council.

The plant will also deploy integrated AIoT smart technology to monitor and optimise energy consumption, predict demand and maintenance requirements and utilise battery storage facilities to manage energy supply intermittency. 

Permission came after a public consultation exercise with local stakeholders and residents, which received 80 per cent positive support.

Envision AESC is partnering with Renault Group to develop a 9GWh gigafactory in Douai by 2024, with the aim of reaching 24GWh six-years later. 

West Midland gigafactory

Further plans for the West Midlands Gigafactory have been announced, including costs, capacity and schedules.

The plant in Coventry, is a public private joint venture (JV) between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport and supported by an alliance of local governments, industrial groups, and universities.

The JV aims to begin production by 2025, before moving to its full planned capacity of 60MWh at an unreleased date.

The gigafactory will require a £2.5 billion ($3.4 billion) cash injection.

The plant will be based next to the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre.

UK’s required battery capacity

According to the Faraday Institution, the UK will need eight gigafactories to meet domestic demand from EV and energy storage system developers.

Joining the race for the UK’s first gigafactory is Britishvolt, which announced last December it was set to build its plant in the North East of England— five months after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Welsh government.

The company began preliminary work on its plant in September after acquiring exclusive rights to a site in Blyth, Northumberland.

Read more about the Britishvolt’s plans in the Autumn 2020 edition of BEST magazine HERE

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