The company building the UK’s first battery gigafactory has been valued at more than $1bn in its latest funding round, tapping into rising demand for energy transition investments.
Britishvolt raised about $70m in so-called series B financing from investors including mining company Glencore, Carbon Transition, a Euronext-listed fund that backs green businesses and technology, and UK engineer NG Bailey, said people with knowledge of the deals.
The fundraising marks another milestone for the company, which was founded in 2019 by Orral Nadjari, a former investment banker. It comes just weeks after the battery start-up began construction of its plant on the site of a decommissioned coal-fired power station in Northumberland.
Kasra Pezeshki, Britishvolt’s chief investment officer, said the funding round underscored the demand for investments backed by environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.
Supporters of the project say the Britishvolt plant in Blyth will help nurture an electric car industry in the UK and also make it easier for the government to hit its carbon reduction targets.
With the UK banning petrol and diesel vehicles sales from 2030, the car industry is under pressure to establish the infrastructure, including battery suppliers, to produce electric cars and protect jobs.
The weight of electric batteries means they need to be produced close to where the rest of the vehicles are manufactured.
Mining group Glencore announced last month it had taken a stake in the company as part of a long-term agreement to supply cobalt, now one of the world’s most sought-after raw materials because it is used in electric vehicle batteries.
Britishvolt is targeting capacity of 30 gigawatt-hours a year from its gigafactory, enough batteries to power 300,000 electric vehicles, with first production expected at the end of 2023.
More than two-thirds of the company’s phase 1 capacity of 10GWh has been signed up by three unnamed customers, according to people familiar with the details.
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To help finance the full cost of the $3.6bn project, Britishvolt is considering a listing on the London Stock Exchange or a merger with a special purpose acquisition vehicle in New York. It also wants to tap the government’s Automotive Transformation Fund for financing. Barclays is advising Britishvolt.
Earlier this year, rival battery start-up Northvolt raised $2.75bn from investors including Volkswagen and Goldman Sachs, for its gigafactory in northern Sweden.
That round of financing highlighted the interest in gigafactories. It also placed a value of $12bn on Northvolt and will help the company expand capacity from 40GWh to 60GWh a year.
In the UK, a number of companies are in talks with the government about building gigafactories but only Britishvolt, which has yet to unveil a sample battery cell, and Nissan have publicly declared plans.
Britishvolt says the Blyth plant will initially employ 1,000 people, rising to more than 3,000 once it is at full capacity, providing much-needed jobs in one of the poorer parts of the UK.
The company is widely acknowledged to have secured the best site in the country to develop a gigafactory — a 93-hectare plot with access to a deep sea harbour and hydropower from Norway via a North Sea interconnector. It is also working with Circulor, a supply chain tracking group, to develop a carbon emissions benchmark for gigafactories.
Nadjari remains Britishvolt’s biggest shareholder with a holding of about 30 per cent. William Harrison, an American billionaire, owns 19 per cent.