Accelerated Electrification Transition in the North East of England
The drive to decarbonise our UK industries is creating attractive investment opportunities for battery technology and supply to support the electrification of transport, industry and energy systems.
Home to the UK’s first gigafactory, the country’s largest car plant and the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the North East of England is transitioning to carbon neutrality at pace. Significant opportunities for investment exist across the supply chain for electric vehicles (EVs), battery technologies and innovative materials recycling.
North East of England
Foreign direct investment
Zero emission vehicles, Technology
Sector and market opportunity
The North East hosts the UK’s biggest car plant as an anchor, with confirmed electric vehicle demand of 100,000 per year and further plans unveiled by Nissan EV36Zero to create a £1 billion EV Hub.
Investment opportunities exist for businesses who can serve the EV supply chain growth across components, power electronics, motors and drives. Further medium-term opportunities also exist across battery recycling, second life battery technology, energy storage, energy systems integration and the north-eastern lithium value chain.
The global market value for EV batteries is anticipated to reach $134.6 billion by 2027 and UK EV battery production demand is expected to reach 100-130GWh per annum by 2040.
Nissan and Envision AESC’s Sunderland gigafactory, the UK’s first at scale battery gigafactory, will be operational by 2025. In addition, the Northumberland gigafactory at Cambois is considered one of Europe’s premier locations for battery manufacture, with access to deep-water ports, renewable energy and a supportive ecosystem.
The location has a unique geography encompassing a comprehensive array of net zero innovation. This includes 2 gigafactory sites, energy and renewables at the Ports of Blyth and Tyne and high value industrial clusters at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park and NETPark.
The North East’s net zero credentials make it a prime location to meet national and international demand for accelerated electrification, including battery manufacturing with the UK’s first at scale battery plant, automotive and off-highway applications, and clean energy systems.
With 4 international airports within reach, including Newcastle International Airport, businesses can easily feed into and draw from global battery supply chains. The region benefits from excellent road and rail connections to major commercial hubs in the UK. Strong international trade routes facilitate access to markets in the EU and beyond.
The Ports of Tyne, Blyth and Sunderland facilitate seaborne exports. Port of Tyne is also a major vehicle handler, processing 600,000 vehicles per annum - the highest of any UK region.
Local talent and skills
The area is home to a highly-skilled existing workforce in the North East low carbon economy, employing 7,600 – 5% of total regional employment. It has an annual turnover of £2.7 billion and the highest turnover per employee. 3,975 advanced manufacturing enterprises employ 67,000 people, and automotive manufacturing contributes £918 million to regional gross value added (GVA).
There’s a strong talent pipeline, with 52,000 (45%) students studying STEM and nearly 6,000 studying mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering. Newcastle University National Battery Training and Skills Academy and New College Durham are located in the North East.
North of England
The North of England is recognised as a global centre for creativity and design and attracts thriving international investment. This heritage of expertise and manufacturing know-how is well established on the world stage, and historically gave birth to the Industrial Revolution.
Research and expertise
The North East has a concentration of leading academics and an excellent R&D environment:
- Newcastle University’s Electrification Process Innovation Cluster delivers industry collaboration across battery tech and power electronics motors and drives (PEMD)
- Durham Energy Institute: green power research and development
- Northumbria University’s US/UK joint Global Centre for Sustainable Li-Ion Battery Recycling
- Sunderland University’s Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing: product and process innovation
- Centre for Process Innovation (CPI): commercialisation of new products and services across materials, formulations, sensors and optimisation
- Offshore and Renewable Energy Catapult: comprehensive, independent test and demonstration facilities
The North East Knowledge Anchor is a partnership between industry, government, higher and further education aiming to accelerate regional clean energy and green manufacturing growth.
With an emphasis on sustainability, North East-based operations can access green energy sources with direct wire and sleeved energy potential alongside microgrid technology. It has proximity to Dogger Bank windfarm operations and the North Sea Link (NSL) renewable energy interconnector – with opportunities in renewables energy storage.
Local and national government support
Innovate UK’s “Driving the Electric Revolution” challenge supports business-led innovation projects that enable UK supply chain and manufacturing capability growth in power electronics, machines and drives.
The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC_ joint venture between government and the automotive industry has a £1 billion budget to support projects at the later stages of technology development. APC released £89 million funding in October 2023, supporting 20 UK projects.
Local incentives and support are available to complement national support, as well as a comprehensive soft-landing package.
Nissan / AESC EV360
Nissan EV36Zero is a £1 billion flagship Electric Vehicle (EV) Hub creating a world-first EV manufacturing ecosystem. Centred around the record-breaking plant in Sunderland, UK, Nissan EV36Zero will supercharge the company’s drive to carbon neutrality and establish a new 360-degree solution for zero-emission motoring. With an initial £1 billion investment by Nissan and its partners Envision AESC - a global player in world-leading battery technology - and Sunderland City Council, EV36Zero brings together electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery production.
Turntide Technologies strategically acquired North East companies Hyperdrive, Avid and Borg Warner, representing over a £100 million investment into the region. This enabled the acceleration of existing technologies and capabilities, reducing cost and energy use for commercial transportation. The Complete Smart Motor System™ is an end-to-end offering for the electrification of vehicles, reducing requirements for rare earth magnets in EVs.
Green engineering firm Saietta Group designs, develops and supplies powertrains for electric vehicles on land and sea in bases around the world. They recognised that the UK is a hot spot for electric power-train innovation and chose Sunderland to onshore e-motor production from China. The company plans to build up the engineering and manufacturing of its technology in the UK and export to mainland Europe and beyond.
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