Subsidy temptation

AMTE Power warns of US threat to Dundee plan

AMTE Dundee (plan)

AMTE Power’s plans for Dundee are now in doubt

Scottish battery producer AMTE Power has warned that the UK needs to remain at the forefront of the technology or risk losing projects to the US.

AMTE Power has plans to build a megafactory on the site of the Michelin tyre factory on Tayside with longer term intentions to develop it into a gigafactory employing hundreds of workers making batteries for electric vehicles.

But the Thurso-based firm said it is difficult to justify keeping production in the UK when the US is offering huge incentives to green technology companies.

Its Inflation Reduction Act is already proving a lure for companies as big as Volkswagen and companies in highly competitive and capital-intensive production are likely to follow.

AMTE Power chief executive Alan Hollis wants the UK and Scottish governments to provide grant funding to cover up to 20% of the capital investment. He also called for consider further incentives to support operating costs, in order to remain competitive with suppliers in America.

He said: “In the Inflation Reduction Act, the typical support for the running costs of a gigafactory would be between 30 and 50% of the operating costs.

“The answer is perfectly clear [about] where the most economic place for the gigafactory will be.

“We don’t have a competitive environment in the UK at this moment in time.

“We are a home-grown UK business,” he told Sky News. “We see ourselves as a UK company. We’ve developed the technology here. We want to commercialise the technology here and we want to manufacture the product here.

“Like any good business, we are always monitoring the wider market and must factor the global context into our considerations but we do not currently plan to relocate. We remain committed to Thurso and Dundee remains our preferred site.

“But we have to ask the question if the subsidies are available overseas.”

Mr Hollis added: “Unless we make the UK a competitive place for battery manufacturer, we probably won’t end up with a battery manufacturing industry in the UK. And the consequences of that are clear for the automotive industry and for the energy storage sector as well.”

The demands from AMTE Power, which is quoted on the Alternative Investment Market, follows the collapse of Britishvolt, which proposed building a gigafactory on a site at Blyth in Northumberland, but failed to raise enough cash to begin construction.

However, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt remains wary of subsidies, claiming taxpayers’ money would be used for investments that would take place anyway. He is also concerned about sparking a new trade war.

The chancellor, who discussed the Inflation Reduction Act with his international counterparts in Washington over the past week, signalled that he had no plans for fresh subsidies.

“If you depend entirely on subsidies, there’s a risk. First of all it’s wasteful to spend money subsidising factories that would have been built anyway. Secondly, when you take subsidies away, you can end up with a business that’s not viable.”

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