Britishvolt, a leading UK investor in battery storage technologies, has purchased the 95-hectare site of the former Blyth coal-fired power station so it can be repurposed into the UK’s first battery gigafactory.
The £2.6 billion ($AU4.7 billion) investment, first announced back in December and reaffirmed this week, including with a feature in BBC News, is the biggest industrial investment in England’s North East since Japanese automotive giant Nissan arrived in the region in 1984.
Britishvolt says the gigafactory will begin construction in the northern summer this year, and by completion of the project’s final phase in 2027, will employ up to 3,000 highly skilled professionals, support a further 5,000 jobs in the wider supply chain, and produce more than 300,000 lithium-ion batteries for the UK automotive industry.
The Blyth power station site – which once featured two now demolished coal fired generators – includes existing infrastructure links and will be powered by renewable energy, including the possibility of hydroelectricity generated in Norway and transmitted under the North Sea via the world’s longest inter-connector.
The project is considered to be significantly strategically important for the UK automotive industry as it seeks to maintain a competitive advantage in the shift to electric vehicles.
The building of a battery gigaplant is also one of the key pillars of prime minister Boris Johnson’s ten-point plan for the UK’s green recovery and will also play an important part in the country’s Net Zero target.
A second UK gigafactory is also in the planning phase, after the Coventry City Council reportedly entered a joint venture partnership with Coventry Airport in February. Specifically, the two organisations announced they would solicit and develop proposals for a gigafactory.