The owner of the UK’s sole large-scale battery factory, a Chinese company, has unveiled plans for a key expansion that will place the Sunderland plant among Europe’s largest electric vehicle facilities. Envision said the project’s annual capacity will eventually reach 38 gigawatt-hours (GWh), up from an earlier goal of 11GWh revealed in July as a portion of a supply arrangement for Nissan’s Sunderland plant in Japan. Battery makers are investing billions and billions of dollars in new facilities throughout the world as they try to keep up with the increasing demand for electric cars.
In a conversation with the Financial Times, Envision’s chief executive, Lei Zhang, stated the Shanghai-based business was in talks with major carmakers about utilizing the Sunderland factory, as well as another in France, to provide their vehicle plants.
The Sunderland “gigafactory,” which can produce 1.7GWh annually, first debuted in 2012 to produce batteries for Nissan’s Leaf electric car, which is made right next door. Nissan is planning a crossover SUV to replace the Leaf, that was for a great many years the most famous battery-electric car on British highways until it was surpassed this year by Tesla’s Model 3.
When Envision purchased Nissan’s battery company in 2019, it acquired the Sunderland manufacturing. Zhang stated that the company, which also produces wind turbines, planned to sell its battery business in order to fund its additional factories. A 38GWh facility would go a long way toward bridging the deficit in UK production. According to the Faraday Institution, which is funded by the UK government, the UK will need annual battery output of around 140GWh by 2040 to maintain a car sector of a similar scale after the shift away from the internal combustion engines. If gigafactories are not secured in the UK, the industry could lose more than 100,000 employments.
Britishvolt, which wants to generate 30GWh per year by 2027, is now the only publicly announced plan for increased battery production in the UK. Although Glencore, a metals trading corporation, has invested in the startup, the venture is not yet completely funded. To raise funds, Britishvolt is seeking the stock market listing in the London Stock Exchange.
Local authorities in West Midlands have devised a distinct strategy to entice investors to invest in a gigafactory near Coventry Airport. They have pre-emptive planning clearance for the site, but still, no investor has expressed interest.
As per Benchmark Minerals, a data business, there are proposals for 247 battery factories with a combined production of more than 4,600 GWh globally. Asian firms such as Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd of China, LG of South Korea, and Panasonic of Japan dominate the business.