Midlands Lithium Battery Plant Boost For Forklifts

Midlands Lithium Battery Plant Boost For Forklifts

While the planned abolition of petrol and diesel cars in the UK means a big step-up is required in the production of lithium batteries to replace their electric replacements, the development of the sector also holds the prospect of making lithium battery-powered forklifts the norm as well.

Indeed, providers of forklift rental in Birmingham could be among those set to benefit from a new development just down the road in Coventry. 

The Engineer has reported on the development of a new plant on the edge of the city, called the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), which it notes is one of up to seven gigafactories that may be active in Britain by the end of the next decade.

A key feature of the plant is its sheer capacity, with the current largest factory in the UK being the former Nissan plant in Sunderland with a capacity of 2GWh per annum, a fraction of the estimated 450 GWh of factory capacity expected to spring up on the continent by the end of the 2020s.

The £130 million UKBIC is one of the developments that will ensure Britain remains at the heart of the industry, with funding coming through the government’s £330 million Faraday Battery Challenge, aimed at meeting this specific need.

According to the journal, without such factories the UK motor manufacturing industry would die out, so their development is vital. Of course, such production could also aid the provision of new lithium-powered forklifts, although these already exist and are being produced elsewhere.

Managing director of the site Jeff Pratt told the magazine: “Our order base is at about £7 million, and our pipeline is at about £20 million.” He noted that this is not all from car makers, with others interested too, from rail to the marine sector, though for confidentiality reasons he could not name any names.

Allied to battery production capacity is the ability of British plants to access refined lithium. The good news on this front is that new plants are emerging across the country that will do just that, ending a reliance on China and other overseas sites. 

Singaporean firm Triguafura is one company planning such a plant in the UK and they are far from alone. British firm Green Lithium is looking to enter a partnership with them at the new Tees Freeport in Middlesbrough, while another UK company, Tees Valley Lithium, aims to build a refinery of its own at the port.

UK firms are also getting involved with the continental manufacturers, with Britishvolt agreeing a deal last month to purchase EAS, a German based subsidiary of the Monbat Group, for £36 million. EAS is one of the most advanced manufacturers, with even NASA among its clients.

All this means the production of lithium batteries for the UK market, be it cars, shipping, rail or forklift tricks, looks set to grow and grow in the year ahead. That means warehouse owners and others who want to hire forklifts will see an ever-growing supply of lithium-powered machines to help keep their carbon footprints down.

The Engineer - On the charge: How UKBIC is helping to accelerate the UK's battery manufacturing ambitions (2)

Green Lithium teams up with Trafigura for Teesworks project | The Northern Echo

Tees Valley | Leading the charge (teesvalleylithium.co.uk)

Britishvolt snaps up German battery innovator EAS in €36m deal - Business Live (business-live.co.uk)

UK gigafactory developer to scale-up ambitions with lithium-ion battery firm buy-out - Best Magazine