Britishvolt, a venture which aims to build the country’s first large-scale battery plant for electric cars, has secured a £200m funding boost from backers including Glencore.
The FTSE 100 commodity trader has contributed £40m to a funding round which values Britishvolt at almost £800m, despite its planned gigafactory site in Northumberland having not yet made a single battery.
The deal comes after the Government contributed £100m to underpin a £1.7bn sale and leaseback of the property near Blyth last month. Britishvolt has said it aims to be up and running by the end of next year.
Glencore’s involvement in Britishvolt’s third equity funding round reflects the opportunity opened up for the commodities industry by the need for copper, cobalt and other metals and minerals in batteries.
The company was already a shareholder and is targeting rapid growth in the sale of electric cars as it comes under shareholder pressure to exit traditional markets such as coal.
News of the investment came as Glencore posted earnings for 2021, in which it revealed it had set aside $1.5bn (£1.1bn) to resolve corruption investigations in the US, UK and Brazil.
Glencore said it was expecting these investigations to be resolved this year, four years after it first emerged that it was under investigation by the US Department of Justice over allegations of money laundering and bribery. Chief executive Gary Nagle said: “We recognise that there has been misconduct in this company historically and there were flaws in our culture and we’ve worked very hard to correct that.“We want to complete these investigations, put a line under that and move forward.”
It came as Glencore posted its highest ever profit for 2021, with adjusted earnings having almost doubled during the year to hit $21.3bn. Revenue was up 43pc year-on-year at $203.8bn, as Glencore said there had been rising demand for its metals and energy products.
The company said it had seen “multi-year or record high prices for many of our commodities” during the year.
Glencore is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of thermal coal, which is used to generate electricity. It has recently faced pressure from activist Bluebell to spin off its coal business due to both “financial and environmental considerations”.
However, unlike other miners who have already sold their coal mines or laid out plans to withdraw from the sector, Glencore has maintained that its plan is to run down the mines over the next 30 years.
Glencore said it would be returning $4bn to shareholders as part of a buyback programme, thanks to the “significant improvement” in its financial results.
World-leading regulations for new homes and buildings in England announced as Government charges forward with electric vehicle revolution
At the CBI, Prime Minister expected to call the green industrial revolution the biggest opportunity to unite and level up the UK, with government and business working in partnership
Comes as Government invests nearly £10 million into new hydrogen project in Scotland
New homes and buildings such as supermarkets and workplaces, as well as those undergoing major renovation, will be required to install electric vehicle charge points from next year, under new legislation announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
England will lead the world to mandate such building regulations, kicking off a decade of delivery in hundreds of thousands of charge points while creating further green jobs across the country.
With the majority of charging happening at home, this will mean people can buy new properties already ready for an electric vehicle future, while ensuring charge points are readily available at new shops and workplaces across the UK – making it as easy as refuelling a petrol or diesel car today.
As well as new homes and non-residential buildings, those undergoing largescale renovations which leaves them with over 10 parking spaces will be required to install electric vehicle charge points.
After consulting with industry, the Government will also be going further to make it easier and simpler for people to go electric, by introducing simpler ways to pay whilst travelling, such as contactless, at all new fast and rapid charge points.
This comes as the Prime Minister addresses the CBI annual conference, where he’ll set out how the UK can create a first mover advantage in the biggest transformation of the global economy in 200 years, if the public and private sectors work in partnership to seize the opportunities of net zero, from electric vehicles to clean power.
In his CBI speech, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to say:
This is a pivotal moment – we cannot go on as we are. We have to adapt our economy to the green industrial revolution.
We have to use our massive investment in science and technology and we have to raise our productivity and then we have to get out your way.
We must regulate less or better and take advantage of new freedoms.
He will add:
We will require new homes and buildings to have EV charging points – with another 145,000 charging points to be installed thanks to these regulations.
We are investing in new projects to turn wind power into hydrogen and our net zero strategy is expected to trigger about £90 billion of private sector investment, driving the creation of high wage high skilled jobs as part of our mission to unite and level up across the country.
The Government has also announced today that following a successful pilot with businesses, Innovate UK will deliver a new three-year programme of £150m in new flexible and affordable Innovation Loans to help British SMEs commercialise their latest R&D innovations. This programme supports businesses to grow, scale up and create new highly-skilled jobs in the process, including those who would have otherwise been unable to secure private loans.
Whilst this is open to a variety of sectors, green businesses will be able to apply from early next year, many of whom have already been benefiting during the pilot as the UK transitions to net zero.
For example, Northern Ireland based Catagen Ltd’s development of catalytic converters has helped vehicle manufacturers to reduce emissions. NanoSUN Ltd – a company based in Lancaster – develops and manufactures hydrogen refuelling products for customers in the oil and gas and transport sectors, with the support of the innovation loan helping them triple the number of high-skilled engineers they employ and prototype and demonstrate their products.
Thanks to innovation loans, 70% of surveyed businesses who were part of the pilot are now also offering customers greener alternatives to their existing products.
The Government has also confirmed today nearly £10 million in funding for a first-of-a-kind new hydrogen project in the UK’s largest onshore windfarm near Glasgow.
£9.4 million will be invested into the Whitelee green hydrogen project to develop the UK’s largest electrolyser, a system which converts water into hydrogen gas as a way to store energy and supply local transport providers with zero-carbon fuel.
Developed by ITM Power and BOC, with ScottishPower, it has the potential to store and produce the equivalent of enough green hydrogen to fuel over 200 bus journeys travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh each day.
“We are investing in new projects to turn wind power into hydrogen and our net-zero strategy is expected to trigger about £90 billion of private sector investment, driving the creation of high wage high skilled jobs as part of our mission to unite and level up across the country.”
The new measures will apply to both homes and non-residential buildings, and also renovations on properties with more than 10 parking spaces.
Using a normal wall plug at home to charge an electric vehicle is a time-consuming process, with the RAC saying it is “by far” a better option to have a dedicated charger.
The company says the average cost for installing a dedicated charger at home is around £800 – but financial support is available from the government.
In response to the announcement, Labour said it does nothing to address the “appalling divide” in charging ports between northern and southern parts of the country.
Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, said: “The government is failing Britain’s automotive companies and workers.
“Rather than step up to support the car industry in the global race for green technologies, ministers have stepped back and left manufacturers, workers and the public on their own, failing to take the action necessary to make the switch affordable for families hit by a cost of living crisis.
“To back the car industry and create jobs, Labour would bring forward ambitious proposals to spark an electric vehicle revolution in every part of the country.
“By extending the help to buy an electric car for those on lower and middle incomes and accelerating the roll-out of charging points in areas that have been left out, we would ensure that everyone could benefit and make the green transition fair.”
Mr Johnson is expected to tell the CBE the UK will gain advantages from being first to change its economy and transition to net zero.
He is expected to say: “This is a pivotal moment, we cannot go on as we are.
“We have to adapt our economy to the green industrial revolution.
“We have to use our massive investment in science and technology and we have to raise our productivity and then we have to get out your way.
“We must regulate less or better and take advantage of new freedoms.”
Four hours are enough to charge the vehicles in UK’s largest e-bus depot, managed by First Glasgow. The operator announces it has completed Phase One of its green transformation with installation of state-of-the-art rapid charging units.
With phased completion for the remainder of the work scheduled to take place across the next 12 months, the depot has been designed to accommodate and charge up to 300 EV buses on site – and will see the introduction of 150 electric buses over the next 18 months.
As we have seen, the future of e-mobility is built on rapid charging, and ensuring the charging infrastructure is in place to make this a possibility must be a priority. Our partnership with First Bus to bring versatile, convenient charging to the city of Glasgow puts us in a unique position ahead of COP26 later this year, to make a significant contribution to the discussions at the event, as well as positively impacting fleet owners across the UK. Our unique charging offering ensures fleet owners are able to effectively deploy and manage their e-fleets while serving cities of the future.
Michael Colijn, Chief Executive Officer at Heliox Group said
First Glasgow: a depot for e-buses
The depot transformation is being delivered thanks to over £63m of funding: First Bus is investing £35.6m into the project, while the Scottish Government’s Scottish Ultra Low Bus Scheme (SULEB) is funding a further £28.2m.
Glasgow’s Caledonia bus depot has reached a key milestone in its green transformation plans with the installation of 11 advanced rapid 150kW dual cable charging units. This first phase of work has been completed ahead of a new batch of 22 electric buses arriving at the depot ahead of COP26, and marks a significant step forward in First Bus’ plans to have a zero-emission fleet by 2035.
The state-of-the-art dual cable direct current rapid charging units have been supplied by Dutch rapid charging business Heliox and installed by Powersystems.
Each rapid charging station will be controlled via smart charging software to ensure that power is used in the most efficient way. This approach will help minimize the draw down from the national grid at peak times. The digital programming will also mean that each vehicle is fully charged, and the bus interiors are preheated, ready for drivers and customers from the moment the vehicles leave the depot. With an additional 69 rapid chargers to be installed in Phase Two, Caledonia depot will soon be able to charge 162 vehicles at one time.
Following completion, the adapted depot will have the capability to charge 89% of the depot’s electric bus fleet at the same time using smart charging software. First Bus’ long-term objective is to ensure that the site is fully prepared for the transition to a 100% zero-emission fleet. This will include opportunities for further on-site renewable energy generation and storage.Future of e-mobility relies on rapid charging
Janette Bell, Managing Director for First Bus UK said: «Innovative technology and electric infrastructure are key to minimising the UK’s carbon emissions, and so it’s fantastic to see this first step of our vision for the UK’s largest EV bus depot come to fruition. Our transition to a zero-emission fleet is a bold ambition, and at every stage First Bus is committed to transforming our business for the good of the environment. We’re proud to be putting our weight behind Scotland’s green ambitions and the completion of this first phase of works at Caledonia depot give us an exciting glimpse into the future of bus. To see this first EV charging station site completed and ready to go in Glasgow, just as the city prepares to host COP26 later this year, is a brilliant achievement.
Michael Colijn, Chief Executive Officer at Heliox Group said: “As we have seen, the future of e-mobility is built on rapid charging, and ensuring the charging infrastructure is in place to make this a possibility must be a priority. Our partnership with First Bus to bring versatile, convenient charging to the city of Glasgow puts us in a unique position ahead of COP26 later this year, to make a significant contribution to the discussions at the event, as well as positively impacting fleet owners across the UK. Our unique charging offering ensures fleet owners are able to effectively deploy and manage their e-fleets while serving cities of the future.”
Powersystems are actively powering the transition to a carbon free future in the UK transport sector. The high voltage specialist electrical engineering team have delivered electric infrastructure works for First Bus Glasgow at its Caledonia depot which is to become the UK’s largest Electric Vehicle (EV) charging hub, marking a significant step towards the bus operator’s net zero targets, as well as the UK’s wider ambitions.
The parliamentary committee has produced a new report, in which it questioned whether the government will be able to deliver its current goals when it comes to electrification. The National Grid needs to be strengthened if it is to cope with the strain of millions of electric vehicles needing to be charged, the transport committee has warned.
Transport committee says the National Grid won’t be able to cope with additional EV charging demand
Concerns raised that those living in rural areas will be left behind by charging network
Report recommends more funding for local planning and transport bodies
The report raised particular concern about whether motorists living in rural areas who don’t have the ability to charge at home could be left behind by poor public charging infrastructure. The Transport Committee has set out a series of recommendations to government to increase electric vehicle (EV) uptake while ensuring the electricity demand of charging can be met.
Basing these recommendations on 148 submissions to its call for evidence, three oral evidence sessions, a survey with 979 responses and a visit to ChargePoint’s research and development lab, the committee said there are still questions on whether the government’s current plans are enough to deliver the public charging infrastructure required across all regions of the UK.
It said that there are also concerns that unless charging habits change or the national grid is strengthened, the charging needs from millions of new EVs will cause blackouts to parts of the country.
As such, the government must work with National Grid to map national coverage to identify locations where the grid won’t cope with additional usage.
Another area of the committee’s focus was interoperability, with parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport Rachel Maclean confirming to the committee that the government intends to regulate for interoperability between public chargepoints later this year. She acknowledged that while there is an overriding need to legislate, the right balance needs to be struck between making charging easier for the consumer and allowing the market to remain attractive for investment.
Interoperability has been on the government’s radar for some time, having detailed potential methods of simplifying payment in a consultation earlier this year, with these including an interoperable roaming platform established by the government, a requirement for chargepoint operators to open their networks and a market-led approach where the government doesn’t yet regulate.
This followed Matt Western, then-chair of the APPG on EVs, calling on Ecotricity, Pod Point and BP Chargemaster to implement roaming in October 2019, warning that “many MPs are expecting action on this issue, and we would be happy to support amendments to the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act to ensure it, if progress is not made”.
However, Ecotricity and Pod Point hit back, suggesting roaming agreements are “not really relevant” in light of contactless payments.
Alongside interoperability, the Transport Committee also said the government should explain how it plans to tackle the potential price differential faced by people who can’t charge their vehicles at home and therefore rely on on-street chargers, suggesting it could address the discrepancy between the 5% VAT incurred on electricity at home compared with the 20% VAT incurred at public chargepoints.
In May, HMRC confirmed that the VAT on public EV charging stands at 20%, having received requests for clarity from businesses around reduced rates due to the level of electricity being supplied.
While some EV charging networks had already been operating using the 20% VAT rate, InstaVolt announced its costs were increasing 15%, with this to be passed onto its customers.
As part of the government’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure strategy – announced in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan it must explain how it will ensure the rollout of charging infrastructure keeps pace with EV uptake, the committee said, and how it will support all regions and local authorities to deliver sufficient and well-maintained charging solutions tailored to local needs.
It must also use the strategy to set out how the £950 million Rapid Charging Fund – which is aiming to facilitate the installation of six rapid chargers on each Motorway Service area site by 2023 through financing connection costs – will be spent, with the committee stating the spending priorities are currently “obscure”.
Additionally, the strategy should set out the measures the government is taking to identify and address under-provision at locations outside the strategic road network, where grid connection costs and grid upgrades are expensive and the business case for investment is weak.
The strategy should show how the government will ensure that drivers can seamlessly access any charging network in any location at any time, while ensuring chargepoint operators are not disincentivised from investing in charging infrastructure.
Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman, said: “Putting guarantees in place on infrastructure is crucial but one report after another flags concerns to government about the provision of electric car charging infrastructure. Let ours be the last: it’s time that ministers set out the route map to delivering a network of services for everyone across the UK.”
The committee also recommended that the government uses the upcoming Planning Bill to make public chargepoint provision a requirement of local plans as well as making funding for the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme dependent on local authorities having detailed chargepoint plans in place which support rapid charging options.
Funding for the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme was renewed in February, however research from Centrica released earlier this year found that across the next four years, only 9,317 on-street EV chargers are planned for installation by local authorities, with this being only 35 chargers per council on average.
In response to the report, Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb said there is a need to ramp up the installation of on-street charging across the board, including in urban and rural areas.
“Without reliable, affordable and accessible public charging, households without off-street parking will be left behind,” he said.
Work to install a high-powered underground cable that will deliver electricity to the UK’s largest public electric vehicle charging hub at Redbridge Park & Ride will begin next week.
The cable will help decarbonise transport across Oxford.
Work will begin on Monday 2 August to install the four mile cable, which is an integral part of Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO), a government-backed project showcasing rapid EV charging, battery storage, low carbon heating and smart energy management technologies to cut carbon and improve air quality across Oxford.
The cable will connect National Grid’s Cowley substation to Redbridge Park & Ride, creating the power infrastructure needed to charge lots of electric vehicles quickly at once. The hub – which is expected to open in early 2022 – will provide Oxford residents and businesses with easy access to fast, reliable charging. A connection point will also be installed at Oxford Bus Company’s Watlington Road depot, ready to support electrification of the city’s bus fleet.
From Cowley substation, the cable will travel up Watlington Road (B480) before joining the Eastern By-Pass where it will travel along the cycleway from Garsington Road roundabout to Long Lane. It will then travel along the residential streets of Long Lane and Newman Road before re-joining the cycleway at the A4158. It will continue along the Eastern bypass via the cycleway to Redbridge Park and Ride.
Sales of EVs in Oxfordshire are already higher than the national average, and analysis carried out on behalf of Oxford City Council shows that to reach net zero by 2040, 25% of cars in Oxford need to be electric by 2025, 80% by 2030, and 100% by 2035. ESO will create the EV charging infrastructure needed to give more people the confidence to make the switch.
About the installation work
The works are being carried out on behalf of ESO project lead, Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, and are expected to take approximately five months.
The locations for the works are:
National Grid Cowley substation to Watlington Road (B480) – Work starts 02/08/21 for approximately four months. Temporary traffic lights will be in place along Watlington Road
Eastern bypass (A4142) to Heyford Hill roundabout – Work starts 16/08/21 for approximately four months. Temporary traffic lights will be in place for Long Lane to Oxford Road section
Eastern bypass (A423) to Redbridge Park & Ride (A4144) – Works starts 09/08/21 for approximately five months. Eastern by-pass works will make use of cycleway which will remain open to cyclists.
The installation works are expected to take place between 7am – 7pm from Monday to Sunday. However, some works may need to be carried out at night, as advised by Oxfordshire County Council highways.
High Voltage Specialist Powersystems UK, are the principal contractor for the electric works element of the project which includes the installation of the 4 miles of 33 kV cablesterminating into the 33 kV Cowley substation and ultimately will feed the transformers for EV charging. Pegasus Utility Services have also been appointed to complete the excavation works for cable installation.
Residents in the surrounding area have been informed on the upcoming work. Four teams will work simultaneously at different points on the route, with the aim of completing the works as quickly as possible with minimum disruption.
Temporary traffic lights will be in place along parts of the route where works take place on the road. Access to the cycleway will remain open throughout the works, at a reduced width, and pedestrian ramps will be installed to allow continued access to pavements.
“I am delighted that we are about to start work to install the cable works for Energy Superhub Oxford. This cable work will help to deliver power to the UK’s largest electric vehicle superhub which we will be installing at Redbridge Park & Ride. This is a key milestone in this project, and the future of Oxford’s journey to becoming a net zero city.”
Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council
“The start of the cable installation marks an important milestone for Energy Superhub Oxford as we work to deliver the low carbon infrastructure Oxford needs to accelerate net zero. With our partners, we are doing everything we can to complete these works as quickly as possible and minimise the impact they will have on the local community.”
Tim Rose, programme manager for Energy Superhub Oxford at Pivot Power