Welsh site confirmed for Britain's first battery gigafactory

Suban Abdulla

Britishvolt is the first firm to build lithium-ion batteries on a large scale in the UK. Photo: Getty
Britishvolt is the first firm to build lithium-ion batteries on a large scale in the UK. Photo: Getty

A former Royal Air Force base in Wales has been confirmed as the site to build Britain’s first gigafactory, which will produce batteries for electric cars.

Startup company Britishvolt said that after considering Coventry for the site, it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Welsh government for the facility at Bro Tathan, South Wales.

In a statement the company said that the plant, which would have a 200 megawatt solar farm attached, could provide up to 3,500 jobs in the local area, which was previously hit by Ford’s decision to close its Bridgend factory by September 2020.

Britishvolt, which is mulling a London Stock Exchange listing in the first quarter of 2021 is the first company to choose the UK to build lithium-ion batteries on a large scale.

READ MORE: Ford to close Wales plant in September 2020, risking 1,700 jobs

The project estimated to cost £4bn ($5bn) will match the Nevada plant of billionaire Elon Musk’s market leading Tesla (TSLA) for production capacity.

After it was announced in February that the sale of diesel, petrol and hybrid cars will be banned in the UK from 2035, car firms and the UK government have called for a battery gigafactory as the global automotive industry moves towards electric cars.

The company also signed a separate deal in May with specialist battery maker AMTE Power to build factories manufacturing 30 gigawatt hours (GWH) of capacity a year together.

The plans will be a big boost for the automotive sector in Wales, as production for luxury carmaker Aston Martin’s DBX SUV also started in a factory on the same site.

Construction of Britishvolt’s site is slated to begin in the second quarter of 2021 if the startup can raise £1.2bn from investors, the company also said that it would look to raise money through the government’s Automative Transformation Fund.