Momentum in the building of “gigafactories” to supply growing demand for energy storage is gaining pace although support from government will need to increase, according to Scotland’s lithium-ion battery maker.
AMTE Power, based in Thurso, yesterday said it was still considering sites in both Scotland and the rest of the UK to build its own battery production factory.
In a trading update, AMTE said it was “on track” to confirm plans and select a site in 2022, in which it has previously said it would invest tens of millions of pounds.
AMTE, which was the first lithium-ion battery maker in the UK when it was established in the 1990s, is targeting specialised markets.
This includes the automotive sector, which is currently driving calls for the UK to invest in plants, called gigafactories, to produce the batteries required to meet demand among manufacturers of electric vehicles.
On Friday, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) warned that a UK Government scheme expected to support the establishment of gigafactories is “insufficient”.
The Automotive Transformation Fund is worth just £500 million, but a single gigafactory costs between £2 billion and £4bn to set up, the committee said.
Meanwhile, governments in other European countries are supporting factories with £750m each, the committee said.
There are no gigafactories in the UK, but in recent months openings in Blyth, Northumberland, and Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, have been confirmed, while there is also a proposed plant in Coventry.
An estimated five more are required by 2027 to meet ambitions for the production of battery electric vehicles in the UK for sale in domestic and EU markets, according to the EAC.
Kevin Brundish, chief executive of AMTE said that the government has “been focused and supportive in getting the industry to where it is now,” but added: “The support level will need to be more.”
Nevertheless, AMTE in its update for the 12 months to June 30 hailed the progress it had made since it raised £12.9m gross proceeds in a flotation on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in March. It confirmed the cash gave it “a financially strong platform from which to complete the first phases of product development and support the ongoing establishment of its gigafactory”.
Mr Brundish cited its framework agreement as one of the first clients of the newly established UK Battery Industrialisation Centre based in Coventry, where the company will prove that its batteries can be “manufactured at speed consistent with gigafactory rates of production”.
The statement added: “The company is in regular dialogue with elements of the UK government to secure funding for the expansion of production capacity to gigafactory levels.”
Mr Brundish, said the company was at an “exciting point in the development of our portfolio of innovative battery cells”.
He said: “Most recently, we were chosen by the UK Government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre to lead a new automotive battery cell project involving the close participation of several global car manufacturers who will be road testing our batteries.
“Recent announcements by the major automotive brands on their EV manufacturer plans coupled to the UK government’s clear determination to establish Britain as a global centre for battery manufacture is an ideal backdrop for AMTE Power.”
He added: “That said, our focus remains on the development of multiple cells for a variety of specialist markets, not just automotive.”