The UK government has set a target of banning all new sales and production of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, in line with its ambitions to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035. The world’s transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is inevitable, with McKinsey estimating that 70 per cent of all vehicles sold in Europe will be electric by 2040. But while the benefits of EVs such as convenience, omitting less air pollution and low maintenance are obvious, they are only slowly beginning to become recognised.
As organisations make investments in new and emerging technologies to support the wider aims of the government’s climate targets, the possibilities to make an impact too surge. Let’s take a look at Britishvolt, as an example of how the industry is continuing to innovate and change.
Britishvolt is Britain’s foremost investor in battery technologies, aiming to power a sustainable all-electric future. The company is seeking to establish the UK as the leading force in battery technologies. It is working with leading partners and suppliers to achieve this because it is of paramount importance to the future of the UK automotive industry and the overall economic and industrial health of the UK.
The company has a series of ambitions plans across EV tech, battery production and power generation. But, what will it mean for the future of the energy industry?
Electric vehicles will be a leading part of the automotive industry in the years to come, and the prospect of an entirely EV market is also not unrealistic. The government has made a commitment to invest over £30 million to help boost battery technology research, the EV supply chain, and hydrogen vehicles. So, it’s important that the energy and engineering industry invests in the research, development and technology to assist with this shift and pending consumer demands.
Britishvolt is set to construct the UK’s first mass production Gigafactory of batteries for EVs in the North East which aims to produce enough battery cells to power 300,000 EVs within six years; a key moment for the nation’s green industrial revolution.
These plans also mean that they will directly employ over 3,000 people and accelerate the development of EV battery technology exponentially. Britishvolt has collaborated with global technology and service provider Siemens PLC which will provide the company with access to its automation, design, execution and simulation tools to speed up the battery development and production in time for the above mentioned Gigafactory to begin production by as early as 2023.
The production of EV batteries has seen consistent growth for years. The EV battery market is dominated by China, with the nation building a battery gigafactory at the rate of one every week; the USA at one every four months. So far, there are 38 planned gigafactories across Europe, according to green lobby group Transport & Environment, with only Britishvolt's project being disclosed in the UK. It has recently been revealed that the UK government is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce electric vehicle batteries too.
Having a hub in the North East of the UK poses a huge opportunity for the nation’s car industry and wider economy, and will also ensure that the required technology is produced close to the point of use, reducing carbon emissions from transportation.
McKinsey predicts that by 2040, EV battery demand from within Europe will reach a total of 1,200 gigawatt-hours per year, which equates to 80 Gigafactories. With European countries beginning to make way for fast-tracked battery production, overseas imported technology will reduce to help meet the country’s ambitious target of a net-zero carbon emissions footprint by 2050.
Battery manufacturers across the globe will need to keep up with demand. Britishvolt’s plans to build a £2.6 billion Gigafactory will not only become the UK’s most significant battery manufacturing site, but will be the most significant industrial investment in the North East since Nissan’s car manufacturing plant in 1984, which created over 8,000 jobs directly and indirectly throughout the supply chain. Britishvolt Chairman Peter Rolton also said that ex-offenders would be offered training jobs at the site alongside the chance to gain life skills and take adult literacy courses.
Through the collaboration with Siemens PLC, Britishvolt is using its Digital Enterprise Technology simulation tools to accelerate not only the produced batteries but the site and production process. With zero-carbon emission manufacturing ambitions through clean renewable energy from Blyth, hydro-electric energy sourced from Norway and a home-owned solar panel farm, the footprint from the manufacturing process will be minimised and create a sustainable site for the future of battery production.
Due to the site’s accessibility, proximity to major transport links and easily accessible renewable energy it is in line to become ‘one of the world’s cleanest and greenest battery facilities’.
The plans for the UK’s first battery Gigafactory present an exciting opportunity for the UK, its energy and automotive industries, and the North East’s economy too. The creation of such a significant number of jobs is particularly pertinent as we emerge out of the pandemic and one of the worst employment crises of our time. But the advancement of EV technology and production will assist with the global shift to entirely electric modes of transport and achieving a net-zero carbon footprint.
Britishvolt’s ambitious projects will be a pivotal moment for the UK; it’s time for other companies to take note and act.
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