The UK is set to have its first ever ‘gigafactory’ – with hopes for it to be up and running by 2023.
The energy plant will produce green lithium-ion batteries for UK electric vehicles (EVs) and is said to become one of the largest industrial investments in British history.
Set to be homed in South Wales, this gigafactory will stretch over one kilometre long and reach 30 metres tall. Once built, the farm will be the first of its kind in the UK, and will be one of the largest in Europe.
The company behind the battery project, Britishvolt, is aiming for the battery plant to reach up to a 35 gigawatt (GWh) capacity – roughly the equivalent of the joint Tesla-Panasonic gigafactory in Nevada.
And, from the sounds of Lars Carlstrom (the chief executive of Britishvolt), the battery plant will be up and running in no time:
Since lithium-ion cell production can be very energy-intensive, Britishvolt has also announced plans to build a solar park next to the factory, in order to maintain sustainable battery production and meet low carbon objectives.
Why is this project important?
As the UK Government strives to meet its net-zero targets by 2050, battery technology will only become more essential. The government targets have also led to the ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars from 2035 – meaning the UK’s EV industry is likely to soar in the next few years.
The Faraday Institution estimates that 130 GWh of annual capacity will be required by 2040 if the UK is to retain a large automotive sector.
And before Britishvolt’s announcement, recent hopes to house battery farms in the UK had dwindled, after losing out on a major investment in production by Tesla just last year. The company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, blamed Brexit uncertainty for his decision to choose Berlin over a British location for his new gigafactory.
So, while costly, Britishvolt’s gigafactory is set to have a huge impact on both the UK economy and the automotive industry. The project is also sure to lend the government a helping hand in reaching its net-zero goals by 2050.