Ex-Ford boss on leading the UK's battery charge

Key parts of Britishvolt’s battery cell research are being conducted at Warwick University’s Engineering Innovation Centre under the watchful eye of Professor David Greenwood.

As these research efforts expanded in around 2019, Jaguar Land Rover’s then CEO, Sir Ralf Speth, began calling on the government to create conditions that would encourage the opening of a UK gigafactory network, but the demand from customers and industry – whose EV choice was limited beyond cars such as Nissan’s Leaf and Jaguar’s I-Pace – didn’t reach a scale to justify the investment.

Britishvolt burst onto the scene at the end of last year with a three-phase plan to establish a 30GWh battery manufacturing plant in Blyth, Northumberland. The scale of the project is well illustrated by the fact that the finished building will be the fourth-largest yet erected in the UK, said Hoare, employing 2500 people directly and 8000 more in wider industry.

The Blyth site’s primary advantage over most factories in Asia and eastern Europe, Hoare explained, is that it is “phenomenally green”. Most rivals burn coal or other fossil fuels to make batteries, clearly undesirable when the end objective is the decarbonisation of transport. Blyth is on the coast, right where power from North Sea wind farms comes ashore, and just 400 metres from an interconnector that pipes clean power from Norway.


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