Electric North East
There was an already growing excitement in the region about the electrification opportunity but this really accelerated after a two-day conference to officially launch the North East Battery Alliance (NEBA). The event, attended by over 200 people, brought together top academics, industry leaders and public partners with a shared ambition to create a leading international hub for the battery industry and associated technologies.
With funding secured from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, NEBA will create an ecosystem in the region that spans research and innovation centres, manufacturers and skills organisations, in response to the ongoing expansion of the North East’s battery sector. This will include Britishvolt’s lithium-ion gigaplant facility in Northumberland and Envision-AESC’s gigafactory on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sunderland.
The momentum behind the battery ecosystem builds on the region’s existing strengths in electrification, automotive and advanced manufacturing and firmly establishes the North East’s position nationally and internationally – at the forefront of electrification technologies. This will create opportunities for further inward investment and ultimately lead to the creation of more jobs and businesses.
Investment track record and opportunity
Investment in electrification has soared over the last ten years and the North East is a hotspot for this investment. Recent figures produced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders revealed how the automotive industry has committed £4.1bn to the North East during Britain’s first ‘electric decade’.
Importantly, over £3bn of this investment has come in the last two years, through additional investment from Nissan and Envision in a battery plant in Sunderland and the Britishvolt manufacturing facility in Northumberland – their combined requirements will grow this significantly.
Global OEMs located in the region include Nissan, Komatsu, Hitachi, Caterpillar, Liebherr and Cummins; all of whom are innovating and first adapters of electrification technologies.
The electrification sector in North East England is growing, as its global reputation as an EV hub strengthens. With the construction of two new gigafactories with a combined capacity of 60 GWh and Nissan announcing the new all electric models will be built in the region, there are great advantages and opportunities for businesses looking to locate in the North East.
The North East’s five universities are collaborating to form work groups reviewing all aspects of battery production – from raw materials to recycling, to strengthen the region’s research offering in this space.
The region is also known for its optimum location and capabilities in renewable energy, boosting access to the North East Dogger Bank – the world’s largest offshore wind farm. But stabilising the supply of offshore wind energy supply will rely on energy storage capabilities and second life batteries are being put to good use to store renewable energy.
Companies like Connected Energy are specialists in second life batteries, pioneering a circular economy through advanced energy solutions. EMR Metals Recycling is a leading project that seeks to create a new circular end of life supply chain for EV batteries. The region is one of the leading destinations in the world for advancements and clean energy and the North East has significant opportunity to deliver the UK’s Net Zero targets.
There is a shared acknowledgement that we have something very special happening in the region. Building on the foundation of an already strong automotive cluster, the North East has attracted companies from across the globe to be part of this dynamic community. The North East automotive alliance is they key industry voice in the region and has international reach into Asia, Europe and the Americas.
The EV North is an important step in supporting the North East’s transition to become a true automotive powerhouse and a location of choice for automotive investment in Europe. And with the global investment for automotive companies in electric technologies anticipated to be in the region of $225 billion over the next 5 to 10 years, the opportunities for growth are vast.
The UK is a global leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles, there are currently over 100 models of EV on the market and by 2025 it’s anticipated that these will match the number of conventional petrol and diesel engines on our roads.
Invest North East England
Over the last five years, 60% of inward investment into the North East has come from four overseas territories; North America, Japan, Germany and India. Invest North East England is connected to a far-reaching overseas network supported by the Department of International Trade (DIT), with officers located in these key territories.
The overseas posts are our ‘feet on the street’, these teams understand the local markets and local capabilities proactively seek out potential investment for the North East.
Recently, we hosted a webinar with the DIT around the EV sector to an international audience, with delegates from as far as the USA and Taiwan. The webinar brought together expert speakers from industry and research to explore innovation and growth potential in electrification and battery technologies, as well as opportunities to invest or grow in the UK market.
This coincided with the launch of the Electric North East website, a new regional resource by Invest North East England to showcase the North East as a key investment location. In the new hub, potential investors can explore the burgeoning industry cluster, new opportunities and the skills and talent the North East has to offer.
We are now embarking on a program of proactive and targeted work into these territories to make sure that the electrification cluster in the North East goes from strength to strength. This will start with a webinar aimed at companies in the Americas.