London lands Tata’s battery ‘giga-factory’ in Europe

The United Kingdom has won an investment from Indian giant Tata, owner of Jaguar Land Rover, in a giga-factory of electric batteries at “over 4 billion pounds”, which will accelerate the decarbonization of its automotive industry.

This project represents a political victory for Downing Street, which had been negotiating for nine months with Tata to win this investment, notably against Spain.

The plant is expected to generate “up to 4,000 new direct jobs and thousands more in the extended supply chain,” said the press release from the Ministry of Enterprise.

The new “giga-factory” with a capacity of 40 Gigawatt hours, will be “one of the largest in Europe”, continues the press release.

In March, the business daily FT (Financial Times) wrote that Tata Motors had requested half a billion pounds (575 million euros) in aid from the United Kingdom to build its battery factory there, failing which it could choose the Iberian Peninsula.

The factory is to be built in Bridgewater, south-west England, and production is to start there in 2026.

“It should supply almost half of the battery production the country needs by 2030, which will give a big boost to the United Kingdom’s transition to zero-emission vehicles” of CO2, estimates the government in its press release.

– “Keeping commitments” –

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed a “mark of recognition of the strength of our automotive industry”. “We can be incredibly proud that Britain has been chosen for Tata Group’s first gigafactory outside India,” he added.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, July 17, 2023 in London (POOL/AFP – Alberto Pezzali)

“This is probably the biggest investment ever in the automotive industry in this country,” Energy Minister Grant Shapps told Sky News.

Tata Sons chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said in the statement that the Indian conglomerate “is strongly committed to a sustainable future” and notes that the new factory will “supply future models of Jaguar Land Rover with electric batteries (…) with the potential to also supply other manufacturers”.

Environmental NGO Greenpeace hailed “an important moment for the UK car industry”, which “shows that the government has finally started in the international race for clean technologies, while others are already at full speed”.

She is now calling on Downing Street to “keep up with its laudable goal of phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030, and sign the regulations for this”.

For its part, the Unite union stresses that “the United States and Europe have clear and proactive plans for employment and investment” and asks the British government to “put in place a long-term industrial strategy”.

The British Faraday University Center, which specializes in the electrification of the country, points out on its website that “by 2030, it will take a supply of around 100 Gigawatt hours in the United Kingdom to meet the demand for batteries for” vehicles, or the “equivalent of 5 giga-factories, each operating with a capacity of 20 Gigawatt hours per year”.

By 2040 these needs should rise to 200 Gwh, or the equivalent of 10 gigafactories, he adds, stressing the need for the country to accelerate its infrastructure projects.

The Chinese Envision AESC is already building with the Japanese manufacturer Nissan a “giga-factory” in Sunderland, in the northeast of the country, a project announced with great fanfare two years ago.

The British company Britishvolt, dedicated to the construction of a vast factory of batteries for electric cars, for its part went bankrupt before being bought by the Australian Recharge for an undisclosed sum.

At the end of June, the CCC, the independent body responsible for advising Downing Street on the transition to carbon neutrality, had deplored the “worryingly slow” pace of the energy transition in the United Kingdom.

He called on the government to take “bolder action and to make the climate a” priority again.

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