Dec 14, 2020

Britishvolt invests £2.6bn in England battery gigaplant

Dominic Ellis
3 min
UK-based investor in battery technologies says Northumberland site will produce ‘world-class’ lithium-ion batteries for automotive industry by end of 2023
UK-based investor in battery technologies says Northumberland site will produce ‘world-class’ lithium-ion batteries for automotive industry by end o...

Britishvolt, the UK-based investor in battery technologies, has selected a site in the North East of England to build the UK’s first battery gigaplant.

In a statement, the company says it has acquired exclusive rights to a site in Blyth, Northumberland and intends to begin construction in the summer of 2021. It states that ‘world-class’ lithium-ion batteries will be in production by the end of 2023.

The total investment for the gigaplant is £2.6 billion, making it the largest industrial investment in the North East since Nissan’s arrival in 1984, and one of the largest-ever industrial investments in the UK. By the final phase of the project in 2027, Britishvolt will employ up to 3,000 skilled workers, producing more than 300,000 lithium-ion batteries for the UK automotive industry. 

Furthermore, 5,000 jobs in the wider supply chain will also be created by the plant.

“We are delighted to have secured this site in Blyth. This is a tremendous moment both for Britishvolt and UK industry. Now we can really start the hard work and begin producing lithium-ion batteries for future electrified vehicles in just three years. It is crucial for the UK automotive industry and for the entire economy that we are able to power the future. The sooner we start, the better," says Orral Nadjari, Britishvolt CEO.

“Blyth meets all of our exacting requirements and could be tailor made. It is on the doorstep of major transport links, easily accessible renewable energy, and the opportunity for a co-located supply chain, meets our target to make our gigaplant the world’s cleanest and greenest battery facility. We have had an extremely warm welcome from Ian Levy MP and Northumberland County Council and are looking forward to working with them closely on this project,” he adds.

The plant is widely considered to be strategically important to the UK’s automotive industry as it looks to maintain a competitive advantage in an increasingly electrified future. The building of the battery gigaplant is also one of the key pillars of Boris Johnson’s ten-point plant for the UK’s green recovery, as well as being an important step to a net-zero economy by 2050.

“This is an incredibly exciting announcement that will have a massive impact in the constituency and the surrounding area for decades to come. I can’t think of anything comparable in the North East since Nissan invested in Sunderland more than 35 years ago," says Ian Levy, Blyth Valley MP.

“Since Britishvolt first made contact it has been my absolute priority to work in partnership with its leadership team to do everything possible to bring this scheme to Northumberland. Advance Northumberland has also a played a critical role in reaching this point so quickly.

"There is still much to do but the prospect of the UK’s first gigaplant on the old Blyth Power Station site directly creating up to 8000 jobs is amazing. These jobs will not only return the area to the status of an industrial powerhouse but will help us retain our graduates and provide a huge boost to struggling high streets. I look forward to working with all involved and will provide the backing necessary to deliver a scheme that is a once in a generation opportunity," Levy adds.

The Britishvolt gigaplant will be built on a 95-hectare site, formerly the site of the Blyth Power Station. It will use renewable energy, including the potential to use hydro-electric power generated in Norway and transmitted 447 miles under the North Sea via the world's longest inter-connecter from the North Sea Link project.

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Jun 17, 2021

Maven Capital Partners invests £2 million in Guru Systems

Dominic Ellis
4 min
Maven Capital Partners' investment in Guru Systems is one of a growing number of private equity deals in the energy sector

Maven Capital Partners has invested £2 million in London-based Guru Systems which provides B2B IoT hardware, software, and analytics solutions to energy companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

It marks Maven’s sixth VCT-funded transaction of 2021 and will support Guru’s investment in sales and marketing resource, as well as the development and roll-out of new software and hardware products for heat networks and adjacent markets.

Guru’s carbon saving monitoring technology has been developed to initially focus on heat networks where heat generation is centralised and supplied to consumers via a network of underground pipes carrying hot water.

These networks avoid the need for individual boilers or electric heaters in every building and are one of one the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions from heating. Their efficiency and carbon-saving potential is expected to increase as they cover more properties, become interconnected, and increasingly utilise large scale heat pumps as well as combined heat and power plants, and heat recovered from industry and waste.

Domestic heating alone accounts for 13% of the UK’s annual emissions footprint, which is comparable to the contribution of all petrol and diesel cars on UK roads, and low carbon heat networks are a fundamental part of the UK’s decarbonisation strategy. The Climate Change Committee expects the proportion of UK heating delivered via heat networks to rise from 2% to at least 20% by 2050.

Guru’s hardware can be fitted to new-build developments or retrofitted to capture data from existing heat networks and other onsite energy systems. Its software then uses AI-driven analytics to provide complete visibility over the system from a bird’s eye view all the way down to the performance in each individual dwelling. This helps its client’s identity performance issues, improve efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions.

David Milroy, Partner at Maven Capital Partners, said Guru represents an exciting opportunity for our VCTs to invest in a trusted supplier of carbon saving IoT technology.

"As a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, residential heating presents one of the greatest challenges in global and UK efforts to achieve net-zero emission," he said. "Heat networks have a major role to play but, like standalone domestic boilers, they can be hampered by inefficiency. This makes Guru’s sophisticated monitoring and AI-driven analytics technology very attractive to developers and operators as they strive to build efficient and cost-effective heating systems."

Casey Cole, CEO at Guru, said Maven’s investment in Guru Systems enables it to capitalise on the significant growth of low carbon heating in the UK and beyond.

"Our technology supports both the digitalisation and decarbonisation of heat, two of the biggest challenges we face in the transition to a net-zero emissions future. For our clients, the housing associations, local authorities and private developers who build and manage residential developments, our technology allows them to make their energy systems more transparent, lower cost and lower carbon."

Private equity deals rise to meet transition needs

Deals are rising in the private equity sphere as the energy sector seeks investment for sustainable and renewable solutions.

EnMass Energy, a digital procurement and operations platform targeting global waste-to-energy supply chains, recently received $2.15 million of equity investments.

EnMass caters to the entire supply chain, from supplier identification through transportation logistics and delivery audits, speeding up the process of converting usable waste products into new energy sources and saving valuable time for enterprise clients. The seed round was led by Blue Bear Capital, and also included Looking Glass Capital and Climate Cloud, along with a number of angel investors.

"EnMass is unlocking a new category of circular, regional energy economies by combining the innovative instinct of digital technology entrepreneurs with the practical experience of hands-on project developers," said Ernst Sack, Partner, Blue Bear Capital. 

Ara Partners, an industrial decarbonisation-focused private equity firm, recently announced that it has acquired Anesco Holdings, the parent company of the Anesco Group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Anesco is a UK renewable energy company that manages the development, design, construction, maintenance and market optimisation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. It has developed more than 115 solar farms and energy storage facilities, including the UK's first solar farm free from subsidies, while its operations and maintenance service now has close to 1.2GW of renewable assets under management.

Mark Futyan, who joined Anesco as CEO in 2020, said: "This is a pivotal moment for Anesco, as we gear up to deliver the next wave of large scale, subsidy-free solar and energy storage capacity."

Last week Waterous Energy Fund announced the closing of the amalgamation of its two portfolio companies, Strathcona Resources and Osum Oil Sands Corp. In a statement, it claims the transaction creates the largest private equity-owned oil producer in North America.

Adam Waterous, CEO of WEF, said: "Over the past four and a half years we have built Strathcona by consolidating complementary businesses to create a premier energy company with strong ESG fundamentals and the ability to pay substantial dividends to shareholders. Pro forma for the Osum merger, Strathcona is a stronger business that can both defensively withstand market volatility and offensively continue its consolidation strategy."

Private equity firm Hull Street Energy has acquired 100% of the ownership interests in the Waterbury Generation facility from a subsidiary of ENGIE North America. The facility is in Waterbury, Connecticut and provides 96MW of flexible natural gas power capacity to the New England region. In May it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the management team and development pipeline of Foundation Solar Partners.

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