Bids likely

Interest grows in reviving failed Britishvolt plan

Britishvolt collapsed this week

A number of interested parties are keen to acquire collapsed Britishvolt’s Northumberland factory site to revive the battery manufacturing project.

Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata Motors is said to be among more than a dozen firms considering bids, though commodities giant Glencore, which was one of the initial funders, has played down a report of its interest.

AMTE Power, the Thurso-based battery developer told Daily Business that it would not comment on whether it might be interested. It has announced plans to build a megafactory in Dundee and has longer term plans for a gigafactory similar to the one proposed by Britishvolt.

It plans to have the 0.5GWh Dundee plant on the site of the former Michelin tyre factory ready within three years. The total required investment is estimated to be between £160-190m.

It will have the capacity to produce over 25,000 high added value batteries per day, over eight million per year, producing annual revenue of £200m.

The company said the factory can be profitable at a smaller scale than the size of factories at multiple GWh size, benefiting from quicker commissioning time, more flexibility in location, less investment and a faster path to profitability.

A spokeswoman for AMTE Power said: “AMTE Power isn’t able to comment on the Britishvolt news. Its plans for scaling up its battery cell production in the UK remain in place.”

Britishvolt collapsed into administration this week in a major setback to the UK’s hopes of creating a major battery supplier for British-built electric cars.

Auditors from EY will oversee an administration process, with 206 of Britishvolt’s 232-strong workforce to be made redundant immediately. The other 26 are being kept on to assist with the sale of the business and its assets.

Founded in 2019, the manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, a type of rechargeable battery that is used in electric vehicles, agreed to build a £3.8billion factory at Blyth employing 3,000 workers.

It was pledged between £1.7bn and £2bn from Tritax, a property investment company majority-owned by the investment house and Edinburgh-based FTSE 100 firm Abrdn.

However, Grant Shapps, the Business Secretary, refused to allow it to draw on £30 million of bridging finance from £100 million under the taxpayer-backed Automotive Transformation Fund, because key milestones were not met.

Despite this setback, both industry and government sources believe the factory will still be built, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy stating that it will work with the local authorities and potential investors to find a solution. 

AMTE Dundee (plan)
AMTE Power plans a battery megafactory on the site of the former Michelin tyre plant in Dundee

The Labour chairman of the Commons BEIS Committee also called for more government support for the UK’s electric vehicle industry.

The failure of Britishvolt contrasts to the success of Swedish start-up Northvolt, which may hope to capture a greater share of the EV battery market following its would-be competitor’s insolvency.

Northvolt’s production facility in northern Sweden is already supplying customers who include BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars and Polestar and is developing manufacturing capacity to deliver on $55bn in orders.

The European Investment Bank stumped up a $350m loan to get Northvolt off the ground, as part of a multi-billion-euro subsidy programme across seven member states, while $8bn has been raised through a combination of equity and debt funding since the group was founded in 2016.

Its most recent debt round in July last year comprised $1.1bn in convertible notes from a syndicate that included AMF, Goldman Sachs, ATP and Edinburgh-based asset manager Baillie Gifford.

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