Thurso-based battery maker AMTE Power has unveiled plans to build a production line in Australia as it takes further steps towards its ambition of building a UK-based “gigafactory”.
AMTE has joined forces with InfraNomics Technologies to build a 200,000 cell “micro” production line in Australia’s so-called “Lithium valley”.
The company, which specialises in the development and production of lithium-ion and sodium-ion battery cells, said its ambition for the joint venture was to “ultimately build a gigafactory to manufacture lithium ion battery cells capable of producing between 1-2GWh per annum for use in energy storage systems in Australia”.
Kevin Brundish, chief executive of AMTE insisted that the firm would still pursue the development of UK-based gigafactory. The joint venture, named Bardan, would provide a “further test platform for our technologies and will be particularly useful additional experience and proof to investors and customers”.
Reports have warned the UK faces a “major gap” in planned development of battery cell production capacity. This means the UK risks losing domestic car production altogether unless it catches up, according to the report by manufacturing consultancy HSSMI. It is estimated the UK will require 140 GWh in battery cell capacity, according to research programme, Faraday Institution.
More is better for AMTE Power
Mr Brundish said: “The more our cells are in production, whether that be in the UK or Australia, all adds to the commercial appeal of our portfolio of cells.
“Bardan is attractive as a stand alone investment proposition for us, given the anticipated demand in Australia for energy storage solutions, but at the same time, Bardan is attractive as a further test platform for our technologies and will be particularly useful additional experience and proof to investors and customers of our capabilities as we pursue the development of our UK based gigafactory.
“For Bardan, there is no doubt the combination of our licensed technology and knowledge of battery cell manufacturing at scale is an excellent fit with InfraNomics’ capital raising capabilities, local market and supply chain knowledge.
“We believe Bardan can play a significant role in Australia’s future cell production supply line.”
Energy transformation is the largest growth market
Cameron Edwards, director and founder at InfraNomics, added: “The relationship with AMTE provides Bardan and its customers the advanced technological expertise required to make world-class products suitable for extreme environments.
“The global transformation of energy is one of the largest growth markets in the world and we are delighted to be playing a role in reshoring manufacturing in the Australian energy sector and creating an essential piece in the critical raw materials value chain.”
AMTE has developed a range of battery types using a variety of chemistries for specialised markets. Its “next generation” battery products are being prototyped in Thurso, including one being tested with an unnamed oil and gas equipment manufacturer.
The company was formed in 2013 by Mr Brundish and fellow directors Ian Whiting and Steve Farmer who acquired AGM Batteries, which produced conventional lithium-ion cells, from AEA Technology, a spin off from the UK Atomic Energy Authority. The agency, which then operated the nearby Dounreay nuclear power station, has been credited with building the world’s first ever prototype lithium-ion battery.