The UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory has moved a step closer to reality with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between manufacturer Britishvolt and the Welsh government.
It is the first time a location has been officially announced for the firm’s planned 30GWh gigafactory, which will produce lithium-ion cylindrical and pouch cells primarily to the electric vehicle market.
The £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) plant could be up and running as early as 2023, but plans remains subject to UK government funding through the Automotive Transformation Fund.
Signed on 17 July, the MoU sets out plans for the plant at the former Royal Air Force base at Bro Tathan in South Wales’ Vale of Glamorgan.
The gigafactory will be staggered over three stages, with a 200MW solar plant deployed alongside it to supply green power.
Orral Nadjari, Britishvolt CEO and founder, said all the initial funds were in place to move forward with the project and progress to the next phase.
The company expects to be in a position to list publicly, which would help with raising the money to complete the facility, by the first quarter of 2021.
The site was narrowed down from more than 40 locations following a six month analysis period. The site was chosen due to its: import/export accessibility, availability of labour and skilled staff, and geographical proximity to customers and industrial companies.
Nadjari said: “As the birthplace of lithium-ion, the UK remains globally renowned for its academic excellence in research and development, with an abundance of home grown talent for Britishvolt to take advantage of.
“We believe this will not only be vital for the manufacturing and automotive industries, but for the future growth of the UK economy, as the demand for battery production escalates in years to come.
“In the absence of any onshore battery production, 114,000 direct British automotive jobs are predicted to be lost by 2040, and we want to ensure that this doesn’t happen.”
In May, Britishvolt signed a MoU with Amte Power to build lithium-ion battery cell gigafactories servicing the automotive and energy storage markets to support the UK’s Road to Zero (at least half 50% of new car sales to be ultra-low emission by 2030) targets and transition to electrification.
Amte is set to build a battery production facility in one of five, earmarked locations. The firm has designed a 1GWh a year production facility, which is scheduled to be online in 2023 at a cost of £200 million ($245 million).