The buzz at day one of the launch of the North East Battery Alliance (NEBA) was one of excitement and positivity. North East England is already a leading international hub for the battery industry, hosting the UK's first lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant and being one of the first regions in the UK to roll out electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The aim of NEBA is to build on the North East’s existing strengths in electrification, automotive, and advanced manufacturing, to raise awareness of the North East as a leading hub for the battery industry, and to attract further investment.
NEBA is a collaborative partnership comprising CPI, and Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham, Teesside and Sunderland Universities. Further links with other universities, training providers, networks and institutions are also planned. NEBA was created to complement the decision of the Faraday Institution to locate an office in Newcastle University.
Day one of the launch saw presentations from academics, industry and network leaders as well as skills/education providers. The challenges and opportunities of electrification in the North East were discussed, including how to avoid skills gaps in the area.
We heard of the transformational plans for Britishvolt's first full-scale battery Gigaplant in Cambois (pronounced "Kamis"), on the Northumberland coast, creating approximately 3,000 high-value jobs. The site is located close to Blyth's offshore wind farm, the first UK offshore wind farm to utilise float and submerge gravity base foundations, and which is planned to be further developed to include four or five turbines with floating foundations and individual capacities of up to 14 MW.
We also heard, from EMR, of battery recycling technologies and, from Connected Energy, of battery re-use and waste prevention, both working towards a circular economy.
Whilst the final skills session focussed on the skills shortage in battery manufacture in the North East (and indeed across the UK), the proposed solutions to this shortage promised to boost employment and economic growth in the area.
Overall, the day was enlightening, and (as a North Easterner) made one proud of the progress having been and planning to be made.