The £3.8 billion ($4.6bn) battery plant Britishvolt wanted to build had been considered key to the prospects for the UK automotive sector, which is moving away from internal combustion engines towards zero-emissions EVs.
Recharge industries, also a start up founded in 2021, was selected earlier this month as the preferred bidder for Britishvolt.
The company, which didn’t reveal how much it will pay for Britishvolt’s intangible assets, said it planned to start by focusing on batteries for energy storage, adding it aims to have products available by the end of 2025.
It then would manufacture batteries for high-performance sports cars, Scale Facilitation’s chief executive David Collard said, ultimately supporting 8,000 jobs at the factory and in the supply chain.
Scale Facilitation is a New York-based investment fund, which owns Recharge Industries.
“Backed by our global supply chain, strategic delivery partners and a number of significant customer agreements in place, we’re confident of making the Cambois Gigafactory a success and growing it into an advanced green energy project,” Collard said.
“We have the right plan in place, to match and support the region’s energy and ambition to become a major player in the international battery market,” he said.
Analysts reacted positively to the news, even though the deal has placed both a huge opportunity and a burden on a startup yet to construct a project.
“Although the switch to initially focus on stationary energy storage may be disappointing to those that have aspirations for British manufactured cars to utilize British made batteries, this is still a very positive development for the UK battery value chain,” Jordan Roberts, analyst at Fastmarkets NewGen, told MINING.COM.
The expert noted that a combination of renewable energy production and energy storage systems was essential in the transition to a low carbon economy.
“The demand for stationary storage continues to exceed market expectations and we expect it to eventually overtake demand for batteries from EVs,” Roberts said.
Britishvolt was planning to build its 30GWh factory in phases to take advantage of rising EV demand ahead of the UK’s 2030 ban of new petrol and diesel cars. The plant, located near Blyth in Northumberland, was expected to employ about 3,000 people when operating at full capacity.
The completion of the deal with administrators EY means that the revived Britishvolt could make batteries using Australian minerals, including lithium, US technology and British manufacturing, representing the same three countries in the Aukus trilateral security pact, announced in September 2021.
“It is tremendous that we have been able to secure this advanced battery facility for the UK,” Scale Facilitation UK-based advisor, Edward Dawes, said on Monday. “Working with our closest allies, America and Australia, and using world-leading and proven technology, now we can take Britishvolt forward with real purpose.
Europe’s car industry needs to meet tighter carbon-dioxide emissions targets that take effect next year or face billions of dollars in fines if they exceed them.
Global battery supply is dominated by manufacturers in China, Japan and South Korea, but Europe and the US are racing to catch up.
By recycling batteries, the UK will secure some local supply of lithium and cobalt, and also reduce the amount of the metals the country needs to import to make EVs.
The EU Battery Regulation proposes that from 2030, all new batteries must contain 4% nickel, 12% cobalt and 4% lithium, by weight, from recycled materials, with higher targets from 2035.