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Plans to build the UK’s first full cycle battery cell gigafactory, servicing the automotive and energy storage markets, are getting underway. They are being spearheaded by the battery manufacturer, Britishvolt.

It was co-founded by Orral Nadjari, having identified a gap in the market for lithium ion battery production to support the world’s unprecedented transition to electrification.

We recently caught up with Nadjari. Our first question to him, why chose the UK? He told us: “Currently, the domestic demand greatly surpasses supply, and there are gaps in the supply chain which present an opportunity to build out a local ecosystem for battery production.”

From an initial forty two locations, the company has whittled down the choice for the UK’s first 30 plus GWh gigafactory, to two, with a site in South Wales now leading the way. 

“After six months of careful analysis, Bro Tathan is the preferred choice due to a number of different factors. The Welsh Government has welcomed us with open arms and impeccable due diligence, and the region meets vital criteria including import/export accessibility, availability of labour and skilled staff, along with convenient geographical proximity to customers and local industrial companies.

“Furthermore, we believe that there is a vast amount of untapped potential in Wales. This, in combination with its history of supplying the automotive hub in the midlands, makes it a promising location for our gigaplant,” he adds.

Britishvolt hopes to make the final decision by the end of summer 2020, a move that would benefit the whole region in Wales. 

“The initial wave of £1.2 billion of investment into the site will eventually lead to around 3,500 jobs, as well as creating a local ecosystem of 10,000 to 15,000 further jobs for the wider supply chain – including material suppliers, contractors and local services. It would also establish the region as a leader in renewable energy.

“Our ambition is to become one of the greenest battery producers worldwide, which will be facilitated through the creation of our very own solar park, ensuring a near carbon neutral electricity input.”

Longer-term, Britishvolt wants to play a leading role in the UK government’s ‘Road to Zero’ initiative – an ambition plan to see at least half of new cars to be ultra low emission by 2030.  

“Britishvolt’s first 10 GWh facility will produce enough battery packs for +200,000 electric cars – supporting the transition to electrification and assisting the UK government’s Road to Zero goals,” notes Nadjari.

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The disruption caused by the pandemic has highlighted the importance of having supply chains closer to home.

The company recently announced the appointment of automotive specialist Charles Morgan to the Board of Directors. Charles’ grandfather founded the iconic British brand Morgan back in 1909.

In a press statement, Morgan says: “My interest in sustainability stemmed from my time leading the innovation and strategy at Morgan Motor Company, where I wanted to combine new technology with the beauty and skills of human craft. Our inventive, meticulous approach meant Morgan was the first to market with an adhesively bonded chassis, and our sustainable manufacturing meant the Aero 8 car was verified as the greenest V8 powered vehicle of its era.”

“The UK’s current gaps in the supply chain for vehicle electrification, coupled with the rising demand and readily available technology – on top of post-pandemic pressures on public transport – are all acting as catalysts for the innovative products Britishvolt is proposing,” adds Morgan.

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Nadjari beleives that the Covid-19 crisis has shone a light on the necessity for having a dependable supply of lithium ion batteries in the UK.

The disruption caused by the pandemic has highlighted the importance of having supply chains closer to home. This is particularly true for lithium ion batteries which are very costly and carbon intensive to import from the Far East, as well as posing a potential security risk.” 

We concluded our interview by asking Nadjari what the next steps are for Britishvolt.

He told us: “Britishvolt will be making further announcements of key industry hires and strategic partnerships before announcing the final site location choice by the end of the summer. Then, through a RTO and PIPE we will raise enough funds, with government support, to put the first shovel in the ground by early next year.” 

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