The gigafactory site may be instrumental in the UK’s attempts to meet its electric vehicle targets in time for its petrol and diesel car ban, which is meant to reach fruition by the year 2030.
A photograph of the site for Britishvolt’s planned gigafactory, which will be located at the former Blythe Power Station in Northumberland
Image credit: Advance Northumberland
Located where the now-demolished Blyth Power Station used to be, Britishvolt says that the plant, which will begin production by the end of 2023 (and is expected to enter its final phase in 2027) will employ up to 3,000 skilled workers and produce more than 300,000 lithium-ion batteries for the rapidly-growing (albeit COVID-19-affected) UK electric automotive industry. It is also expected to create up to 5,000 jobs in the wider supply chain.
Britain’s First EV Battery Gigaplant
The gigaplant is the result of a £2.6 billion investment, one of the largest ever industrial investments in the UK, and will use renewable energy exclusively. It will even have the potential to use hydro-electric power generated in Norway and transmitted across the North Sea under the North Sea Link project.
The UK is considered by Orral Nadjari, the CEO of Britishvolt, to be the ‘right place’ for the gigaplant because of the country’s strength in automotive and energy, as well as its expertise and rich history in industrial and academic battery research and development.
“We are delighted to have secured this site in Blyth. This is a tremendous moment both for Britishvolt and UK industry. Now we can really start the hard work and begin producing lithium-ion batteries for future electrified vehicles in just three years,” he added.
An artist’s impression of what Britisholt’s Northumberland-based electric vehicle battery gigaplant will look like upon completion
Image credit: Britishvolt
According to Nadjari, other reasons for choosing the Blyth, Northumberland location include its major transport links, its easy access to renewable energy, and the opportunity for a co-located supply chain. (Britishvolt was, however, previously looking at a former RAF base in South Wales, but in early December 2020, the firm settled on the Northumberland site instead.)
The use of Blyth as a location, Nadjari said, “meets [Britishvolt’s] target to make [its] gigaplant the world’s cleanest and greenest battery facility”.
Collaborating with Siemens
Following the gigafactory announcement, Britishvolt has also released the news that it has entered into an exclusive technology collaboration with Siemens.
As part of the collaboration, Siemens will provide Britishvolt with access to its automation, electrification solutions and ‘Digital Twin' manufacturing technology to allow the simulation of gigaplant production processes and flows. Siemens is also providing Britishvolt with design and simulation development tools to help the company accelerate the time it takes for lithium-ion battery cells to go from lab to production.
Nadjari says that working with Siemens will help Britishvolt achieve its tight deadlines “to begin producing world-class batteries, at scale, by the end of 2023”. Britishvolt’s reliance on Siemens’ simulation technology will allow the former to accelerate its would-be complicated production and development processes—suggesting the firm will ultimately be able to bring batteries to market with marked efficiency.