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EGEB: Ex-Aston Martin CEO – UK battery gigafactories are urgent

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The former Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer says the UK must urgently build four battery gigafactories.
  • Spanish energy giant Naturgy enters the US market by partnering with Candela Renewables.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

British batteries needed

Former Aston Martin CEO and Nissan product planning chief Dr. Andy Palmer, who led the development of the LEAF, wrote an open letter to UK prime minister Boris Johnson and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng that said building four battery gigafactories in the UK within the next five years is vital, or the British automotive industry will be lost. As Autocar explains:

The ‘rules of origin’ terms negotiated under the UK-EU deal stipulate that, by 2026, batteries for electric vehicles will only be allowed to contain 50% international content (components sourced from outside the EU) or face substantial tariffs bumping up the cost of the finished vehicle when exported. 

Palmer wrote:

Without electric vehicle batteries made in the UK, the country’s auto industry risks becoming an antiquated relic and overtaken by China, Japan, America, and Europe.

Business sense dictates that the automotive industry will move to where the batteries are, and we are facing a tight race against the clock.

Leaving the European Union provides us with opportunities to compete in the industries of the future. Yet as things stand, France, Germany, and the wider EU are showing their intent by making massive investments in factories that produce batteries and electric vehicle components.

I am urging you to establish a ‘Gigafactory Taskforce’ with the express purpose of identifying an achievable and ambitious plan that allows the UK to build the gigafactories needed in the next five years. Time is of the essence – and the British auto industry depends on it.

New ICE car sales will be banned in the UK by 2030.

Naturgy and Candela

Naturgy Energy Group, a global energy company based in Spain with 18 million customers in over 20 countries, is partnering with US solar firm Candela Renewables, which is headquartered in San Francisco and was founded in 2018 by former First Solar employees. Naturgy has a roughly $20 billion market capitalization, and Candela is valued at $80 million-$100 million.

Naturgy’s and Candela’s partnership has completed the purchase of a pipeline of 3.2 GW utility scale solar projects and 2 GW of co-located energy storage. Candela’s specialty is energy generation and storage, and it has brought more than 26 utility-scale projects, or 4 GW, online in the US.

Candela says of their relationship with Naturgy:

Having Naturgy as a strategic investor is a milestone in Candela’s evolution. It broadens our access to capital, and offers our clients the scale and a long-term owner they may want as we create the energy infrastructure of the future. For Naturgy, this relationship will open the door for them to bring their vast expertise to bear on one of the most exciting solar markets – the US – which is their key focus as Naturgy expands beyond their strengths in electric and natural gas to sustainable power.  

Naturgy’s first investment in the US renewable industry was announced on January 14, when it acquired 100% of the economic interests in New York-based Hamel Renewables. It includes a portfolio of 8 GW solar projects together with 4.6 GW of energy storage projects spanning 9 states in the U.S., of which 25 projects totaling 3.2 GW of solar and 2 GW storage could be operational before 2026.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.