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This article was published on February 27, 2023

Plan to build UK’s first battery gigafactory falls out of British hands

Britishvolt has been bought by Australian firm Recharge Industries


Plan to build UK’s first battery gigafactory falls out of British hands

Britishvolt, a prominent UK battery startup, had generated enthusiasm over its plans to build the country’s first battery gigafactory. But after filing for administration in January, it has now been bought by Australian firm Recharge Industries.

Launched in 2019, Britishvolt had planned a £3.8 billion battery plant near the Port of Blyth in Northumberland, promising 300,000 batteries per year, the creation of 3,000 direct jobs, as well as a significant boost to the region’s economy and the UK’s production of EV batteries.

Despite gaining a funding pledge by the government and partnering with major companies like Aston Martin and Glencore, in January, the startup filed a court notice to appoint administrators, after failing to secure sufficient funding. Consequently, Britishvolt terminated its employees, the plant’s construction was halted, and no commercial battery was ever produced.

Now, battery maker Recharge Industries has won the bid to buy Britishvolt out of administration. The Australian startup is owned and run by a New York-based investment fund, Scale Facilitation.

“Our proposal combined our financial, commercial, technology, and manufacturing capabilities, with a highly credible plan to put boots and equipment on the ground quickly,” David Collard, founder and CEO of Scale Facilitation, said in a statement.

As he told the BBC, Britishvolt will maintain its name, but will follow a different direction. It will now focus on batteries for energy storage with the aim to commercialise them by the end of 2025.

This leaves the UK with only one existing battery plant, next to the Nissan factory in Sunderland. The plant is owned by Chinese company Envision AESC.

But it’s not just takeovers by overseas companies that threaten the UK’s plans to build a competitive battery production sector. According to 2022 EU data, some 20 battery gigafactories are being developed across the bloc alongside 111 industrial battery projects.

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