Blackstone to buy Britishvolt battery factory site for huge data centre


Britishvolt aimed to secure funding for battery R&D and manufacturing businesses in the UK

Blackstone, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, intends to build one of the largest data centres in Europe

Plans initially set out by failed start-up Britishvolt to build £3.8 billion electric car battery gigafactory in the northeast of England look to have ended after three years.  

The proposed 95-hectare site for the factory is close to being sold to US-based Blackstone Group, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, which intends to develop the site and build one of the largest data centres in Europe. 

The figure Blackstone is said to have paid for the site has not been publicly disclosed. Currently, the land is possessed by Britishvolt’s receivers Bob Maxwell and Julian Pitts of Begbies Traynor Group. 

Northumberland County Council, however, can hand over control of the site to Blackstone for £110 million in funding that would go back into the local area. 

Construction for the huge battery factory near Cambois, Northumberland, started in 2021 but stopped in 2022. Britishvolt subsequently fell into administration. 

BritishvoltIt narrowly avoided collapse in November 2022 after securing several million pounds in funding from mining firm Glencore. Combined with a voluntary pay cut for its near-300 staff, this gave Britishvolt sufficient funding to survive until early December 2022. 

Recharge Industries took control of Britishvolt in February 2023, but plans to save the firm were soon thrown into doubt. 

The deal to save Britishvolt included the firm using Recharge’s preferred battery technology – licensed from American firm Charge CCCV (C4V) – rather than that which was in development under the original ownership.

Britishvolt aimed to begin manufacturing cells for energy storage by the end of 2025 and later add automotive clients to its portfolio.

The start-up previously held memoranda of understanding with Aston Martin and Lotus. When Britishvolt failed, the remainder of its staff were transferred to Recharge. 

Recharge is still yet to begin manufacturing batteries in its home country. It only holds early-stage plans to build a gigafactory in Geelong, near Melbourne.

It aims to manufacture lithium ion cells without using materials from China or Russia amid increased geopolitical tension with the two nations, thereby reducing the risk to its supply chains.

According to a report by The Faraday Institution, the UK will need around 100GWh of battery supply – equivalent to five gigafactories – by 2030 to satisfy demand for EV production. This will rise to nearly 200GWh – or 10 factories – by 2040.

Source: Autocar

Leave a Reply