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Comment: next steps to build the battery ecosystem

By Colin Herron
The Britishvolt team looking at the site of the gigafactory

The North East is emerging as the battery hub of the UK. To support the growth of the hub, we are building an ecosystem to support the battery makers ambitions and unique requirements.

The announcement today (21 January) that Britishvolt have secured funding to build their gigafactory is vitally important for the UK and the North East region.
The gigafactory will be built on the site of the former Blyth Power Station. In addition to the 3,000 jobs at the site, Britishvolt estimates at least another 5,000 jobs will be created in the supply chain.
In national terms we need the ability to support the automotive industry on its path to electrification. The North East has emerged as the battery hub of the UK. The UK’s first lithium-ion plant opened here in 2013 and will soon be expanded by Envision AESC. Today's announcement about the Britishvolt plant confirms the creation of a cluster of three battery plants. Last year's decision by the Faraday Institution to open their first regional office in Newcastle University also recognises the importance of the region.
This cluster, along with the Nissan car plant that is producing electric vehicles, is quite unique and an amazing opportunity for the region.
To support the battery cluster, we need to develop an ecosystem that supports the battery makers ambitions and unique requirements.

This ecosystem will comprise suppliers, skills, research, business support and more. Newcastle University has an established relationship with the existing battery plant in Sunderland. Last year, along with Durham and Northumbria universities, we also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Britishvolt to provide support in education and R&D to enhance innovation.

Already, our region's five universities, and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), are forming work groups to look at all aspects of battery production from raw materials to recycling. The whole skills agenda is being looked at from STEM in schools to PhD level research and short courses will be developed to support people in transition to the new technologies. Academia, business and the public sector are working closely to develop what promises to be an internationally recognised battery ecosystem.

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Tags: Energy, One Planet, Working with Business, Sustainable Development