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Northumberland site secured for UK’s first EV battery gigafactory

The UK will receive one of its largest-ever industrial investments when Britishvolt breaks ground on its new automotive battery gigafactory, set to be located in the North East. 

The facility will be located in Blyth, Northumberland, with construction commencing next summer and plans to produce “world-class” lithium-ion batteries by the end of 2023. 

Britishvolt claims the total investment in the gigafactory will be £2.6bn, making it the largest industrial investment in the North East since Nissan established its Sunderland car plant in 1984. Some 3000 jobs are promised, with 5000 jobs created across the wider supply chain.

The facility will have capacity to produce over 300,000 batteries per year by 2027. 

However, the new location marks a reversal of plans first announced earlier this year. The gigafactory was originally meant to be located in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, with Britishvolt having entered a memorandum of understanding with the Welsh government. 

That plan, subject to Britishvolt being able to raise £1.2bn, has been reversed after “detailed feasibility studies”, local reports suggest. Primarily, the issue was timing, as the site is deemed not compatible with the firm’s late-2023 production start date. 

Britishvolt claims the gigafactory is “widely regarded as being strategically important for the UK automotive industry in order for it to maintain competitive advantage as we accelerate towards an increasingly electrified future”. It’s also regarded as vital to facilitating the UK government’s plan to move towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

Discussing the 950,000sq m site, which once housed the old Blyth Power Station, Britishvolt CEO Orral Nadjari said: “Blyth meets all of our exacting requirements and could be tailor-made. It is on the doorstep of major transport links, easily accessible renewable energy and the opportunity for a co-located supply chain, and meets our target to make our gigaplant the world’s cleanest and greenest battery facility.

“We have had an extremely warm welcome from Ian Levy MP and Northumberland County Council and are looking forward to working with them closely on this project.”

Britishvolt even mentions the possibility of using hydroelectric power, transmitted nearly 450 miles under the North Sea from Norway, via the world’s longest interconnector, part of the planned North Sea Link project. The high voltage direct current cable is planned to have a capacity of 1400 megawatts.

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