The majority of Britishvolt’s 300 employees have been made redundant due to “insufficient equity investment” in the electric vehicle (EV) battery start-up. Britishvolt had secured around £100m in government funding for its planned ‘gigafactory’ on the site of the former Blyth Power Station coal stocking yard in Cambois, but reportedly failed to hit agreed construction milestones to access the funds.
When announcing the government’s support in January last year, then Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that Britishvolt’s planned gigafactory would enable the UK to “fully capture the benefits of a booming electric vehicle market” and bring “thousands of highly-skilled, well-paid jobs to the North-East.”
However, by August the constructor working on the facility had paused work after the start-up opted for a “life support” plan to minimise spending.
Leaked documents suggested a “funding gap” that caused delays to the installation of steel infrastructure and that earthworks had also been delayed by “lack of payment”.
In October, the firm avoided bankruptcy after securing £5m from its cobalt supplier Glencore.
Last week Britishvolt was said to be in dire financial straits and looking for a sale to secure its future. The Guardian reported that UK-based private equity investor, DeaLab Group, and an associated metals business, Barracuda Group, were in talks over a £160m rescue deal.
However, Britishvolt today filed notice to appoint an administrator in the insolvency courts.
Dan Hurd, joint administrator and partner at administrator EY, said: “Britishvolt provided a significant opportunity to create jobs and employment, as well as support the development of technology and infrastructure needed to help with the UK’s energy transition.
“It is disappointing that the company has been unable to fulfil its ambitions and secure the equity funding needed to continue.
“Our priorities as joint administrators are now to protect the interests of the company’s creditors, explore options for a sale of the business and assets, and to support the impacted employees.”
Britishvolt suggested the Blyth gigafactory would have a 30GWh capacity by the time it was complete – enough for over 300,000 battery packs a year.
According to the Faraday Institution, the UK will need around 100GWh of supply by 2030 for private cars, commercial vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, buses, micromobility and grid storage.
However, in June, it predicted that UK battery manufacturing plants – including the Britishvolt facility – could reach only a combined capacity of 57GWh by 2030.
It says this would be equivalent to around 5% of total European GWh capacity, compared with 34% in Germany.