Weekly News Review - 3rd March 2023

Britishvolt bought by Australian firm Recharge Industries

The UK battery start-up Britishvolt has been bought out of administration by Australian firm Recharge Industries. The company saw off interest from dozens of other potential buyers to agree a £30m deal with administrators EY. The Britishvolt brand name will remain the same but the company intends to focus initially on batteries for energy storage with a target production date of 2025.

Britishvolt was founded in 2019 with the aim of opening a large facility near Blyth in Northumberland to make electric car batteries. Plans for the £3.8bn factory were part of a long-term vision to boost UK manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries and create around 3,000 skilled jobs.

In January, accountancy firm EY said the company had entered administration “due to insufficient equity investment for both the ongoing research it was undertaking and the development of its sites in the Midlands and the north-east of England”. The company had been close to administration at the end of last year following the government’s refusal to advance £30m of a proposed £100m in support as key milestones had been missed.

The deal between Recharge and the administrators was agreed on February 3, however there were delays in completion as the company had difficulty raising funds. They have agreed to buy Britishvolt’s IP, including its prototype battery technology and retain 26 employees. It has also been granted an exclusivity period until the end of March to secure money to buy the start-up’s land.

Administrators, EY, said: “The sale of the business will help to support the development of technology and infrastructure needed for the UK’s energy transition.” While Recharge Industries chief executive David Collard said: “We are thrilled to have been successful in our bid for ownership of Britishvolt.”

Europe’s largest battery storage system opens in East Yorkshire

Harmony Energy have officially opened their 98MW capacity battery energy storage system in Pillswood, East Yorkshire. The system employs a Tesla 2-hour Megapack system enabling up to 196MWh of electricity to be stored in a single cycle. This is enough electricity to power around 300,000 UK homes for two hours and makes it the largest battery storage system in Europe.

The project will provide critical balancing services to the GB electricity grid network whilst also enabling the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy. The site is located next to National Grid’s Creyke Beck substation, the same connection point proposed for the first two phases of the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Dogger Bank, which is set to go live on the first phase this summer.

Construction of the Pillswood project is estimated to have cost £75m and was originally due to reach completion in March 2023, but the timetable accelerated to enable both phases to energise in November 2022. This allowed the project to support National Grid in its efforts to provide stable and secure power to UK households over the winter period.

Peter Kavanagh, Harmony Energy Limited’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted that our Pillswood Project, Europe’s biggest battery energy storage system, has been officially opened. Battery energy storage systems are essential to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy in the UK, and we hope this particular one highlights Yorkshire as a leader in green energy solutions.”

“It’s also important to add that these projects are not supported by taxpayer subsidy, they will play a major role in contributing to the net zero transition, as well as ensuring the future security of the UK’s energy supply and reduced reliance on foreign gas imports.”

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