Wates and Turner & Townsend team up for £450m car battery gigafactory

Wates and Turner & Townsend to design and project manage build of £450m north east car battery gigafactory at Sunderland.

The Wates Group and Turner & Townsend have been appointed by Envision AESC to lead the design and project manage the build of its advanced car battery gigafactory at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), which spans 50 hectares of land in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Wates will develop an adaptable design that provides the infrastructure to support battery production by 2024. They will work alongside Turner & Townsend who will act as the project manager and cost manager.

Utilising Wates’ expertise from across its integrated construction practice and Turner & Townsend’s experience delivering world-class battery gigafactories across Europe, Asia and the Americas, the team will work together to accelerate Envision AESC’s ambition to create a world-leading net zero carbon facility and achieve carbon neutrality across its operations by 2022.

The £450m gigafactory will form part of a £1bn partnership with Nissan UK and Sunderland City Council to create an electric vehicle (EV) hub to deliver the next generation of electric vehicle production at IAMP, and will play a critical role in decarbonising both UK manufacturing and transport.

Planning permission was granted in October for the gigafactory, which represents an initial 9GWh plant with potential future-phase investment by Envision AESC of £1.8bn. This will generate up to 25GWh and create 4,500 new high-value green jobs in the region by 2030, with potential on site for up to 35GWh. This commitment will power Nissan’s new vehicles in the first phase and support the continued localisation of vehicle parts and components with advanced technology. As part of the design process, Wates is already engaging with local supply chain partners, seeking their input on areas ranging from clean utilities to fire protection services.  

Chris Caygill, managing director of the Envision AESC battery plant, said: “Envision AESC is pleased to be working with both Wates Group and Turner & Townsend as key partners in this next stage of our UK gigafactory development. Each brings unique strengths to the project that will help deliver a world-class battery manufacturing facility essential to helping the UK automotive industry transition to a fully electrified future.

“We pride ourselves particularly on the safety record of our batteries, which continually achieve zero critical incidents in new product and process designs. Together with smart, digitally integrated clean energy generation, storage and use in our battery plants, we are supporting the global transition towards net zero carbon energy targets.”  

Paul Chandler, executive managing director of Wates Construction Group, said: “At Wates, we are constantly looking for a better way, using innovation, adaptability, and collaboration to help us take on the challenge of making our sector more sustainable. This project, to design the Envision battery gigafactory, will be a vanguard for that, representing a huge opportunity to accelerate Envision and the UK government’s net zero ambitions.

“Not only that, but the project is also an essential piece of the puzzle in the government’s levelling up agenda, and we’re incredibly proud to be laying the foundations for sustainable growth in the region. There is enormous potential to bring about real change, creating a legacy for Sunderland and the north east, through the creation of new green jobs and inward investment.”

Daniel Granger, head of industrial and logistics EMEA for Turner & Townsend, said: “Battery technology and advanced manufacturing are driving the modernisation of the automotive industry and our acceleration to a net zero society. The race to supply the net zero economy is well and truly underway and companies will need to scale up quickly to keep pace with the growing demand for clean mobility. All eyes will be on Envision and its Sunderland plant to deliver a world-class facility that can compete in the international battery race.

“We are proud to partner with Envision and Wates and look forward to deploying our unrivalled expertise in managing, delivering and scaling up state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities on this project.”

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