Northumberland site for battery gigaplant

UK investor in battery technologies, Britishvolt, has selected a site in Blyth, Northumberland to build Britain’s first battery gigaplant, according to a story on ‘The Engineer website.

battery gigaplant
Rendering of the planned gigaplant at Blyth (Image: Britishvolt)

Construction is planned to begin in Summer 2021, with an aim of producing ‘world class’ lithium-ion batteries by the end of 2023. The gigaplant will be built on a 95-hectare site, formerly the site of the Blyth Power Station.

Britishvolt confirmed that a total of £2.6bn will be invested into the plant, which aims to employ up to 3,000 highly skilled people by its final phase in 2027, providing up to 5,000 jobs in the wider supply chain and producing over 300,000 lithium-ion batteries for the UK automotive industry.

The building of a gigaplant ties in with prime minister Boris Johnson’s ten-point plan for the UK’s green recovery, and has been described by Britishvolt as ‘strategically important’ for the UK automotive industry to maintain competitive advantage as we accelerate toward an increasingly electrified future.

CEO of Britishvolt, Orral Nadjari, said that securing the site in Blyth was a ‘tremendous moment’ for UK industry, commenting: “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. [It] meets our target to make our gigaplant the world’s cleanest and greenest battery facility.”

Renewable energy will be used to power the gigaplant, including the potential to use hydro-electric power generated in Norway and transmitted 447 miles via the world’s longest inter-connector from the North Sea Link project.

Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy said that the announcement would have a massive impact on the constituency and surrounding area for decades to come, adding that the Northeast had not seen anything comparable since Nissan invested in Sunderland more than 35 years ago.

Following the announcement, Dr Amrit Chandan, CEO and co-founder of clean-tech company Aceleron, expressed concern over the ‘elephant in the room’ – battery waste. “EVs alone are estimated to produce 11 million tonnes of waste by 2030, enough to fill Wembley Stadium almost 20 times,” he said. “This gigafactory is an opportunity for the UK to showcase both its world leading innovation to deliver net zero energy, alongside net zero waste.

“By future-proofing battery design to enable easy servicing, repurposing and reuse we can design out battery waste while creating a booming service employment market that will further drive our green industrial revolution.”

Lithium ion battery anode factory

ABB and Talga plan to explore the development and construction options for a major European battery anode production facility, to be located near a graphite mine in Northern Sweden.

Global technology company ABB and battery anode and graphene additive company Talga Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly develop Talga’s Vittangi Anode Project in northern Sweden.

Combining a scalable battery anode production facility with integrated graphite mining operations, the project will be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity to supply ultra-low emission coated anodes for green lithium-ion batteries. It will be located around 15 km from the town of Vittangi and is expected to begin anode production at 19,000 tons per annum from 2023.

Sweden is known to have significant mineral resources of graphite and exploration takes place primarily in the north of the country. This work is important for steel, car and battery manufacturing industries. Most of the world’s reserves are in China, with other key nations India and Brazil. Europe currently imports most of its graphite, but with the increase in battery technologies the aim is to meet a proportion of the additional demand.

“ABB is at the forefront of industrial automation and electrification, and we are very pleased to have their support as we continue to execute on our plan to build one of Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery anode production facility for more sustainable batteries,” said Mark Thompson, Managing Director, Talga Group.

Northern Europe’s available supply of low-cost green electricity from a range of large-scale renewable sources will also support the production of Talga’s low CO₂ battery anodes.

“Supporting the development of Talga’s Vittangi Anode Project provides us with an additional opportunity to showcase ABB’s leadership in industrial automation and smart electrification, applied towards construction of key operations for the emerging European battery supply chain,” said Björn Jonsson, Division Manager North Europe, Process Industries, ABB. “This is another milestone for us and our customers in our aim for more sustainable operations and a fossil fuel free society.”

A pre-feasibility study was completed in May 2019. The location in Sweden is considered to be a low risk mining and investment jurisdiction. Crucially, it is close to emerging European battery gigafactories currently under development.