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Britishvolt collapse a potential shock to the system

A cautionary note for the lithium and renewables boom from Britain where the country’s much-heralded ambitions in for the transition could be on the rocks.

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Indeed it’s not too much to say that Britain’s battery and EV renewable dreams have taken a huge body blow with the ambitious Britishvolt battery company taken to the edge of collapse, while a Chinese-backed UK EV maker has also announced the loss of more than 100 jobs because of weak sales.

UK media reports say Britishvolt is preparing to enter administration after the troubled UK battery start-up failed to secure additional funding.

Around 3,000 jobs would be lost if the proposed plant fails to go ahead.

The UK government-backed enterprise has been unable to find investors and others to fund its £3.8bn “gigafactory” in north-east England.

Britishvolt has lined up the accountancy firm EY to carry out the administration if it goes ahead.

But the BBC reported late Monday night that Britishvolt had secured funding of an unspecified amount, citing unnamed company sources.

That has not been confirmed as of Tuesday evening in Australia.

The future of the start-up was thrown into doubt over fears it could run out of money after the government rejected a £30 million advance in funding on Monday.

The UK government, which under Boris Johnson as PM and Rishi Sunak as Chancellor (who is now PM) had championed the development, committing £100 million in total to the company for the project.

It is understood the firm wanted to draw down nearly a third of the funding early to avoid running out of money, but the government refused to do that over the weekend.

It has now secured cash for the business to stay afloat in the short to medium term, the BBC

The sources would not comment on the identity of the new backer or backers.

Britishvolt has struggled to find investors to help fund the construction of its so-called gigafactory in Blyth in Northumberland.

The plant had been expected to create 3,000 jobs, but has already been delayed several times, which has led to doubts over whether the £3.8 billion project would happen.

If Britain can’t agree to fund a renewable future project like a major battery factor, or can’t find the flexibility to do so, then it is going to be exiled to the edges of the transition and will always be a passenger and never a driver. Apart from technology, entrepreneurship and a good sized car market, the UK has nothing else riding on a renewable future – it’s damp, overcast, not much sun and has no modern minerals.

It also has a Conservative government that has talked a big game but doesn’t seem to have the courage to put it into action when needed.

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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