Work could start next year on a £100m gigafactory in the East Midlands employing 1,000 people

The boss of Leicestershire fuel cell developer Intelligent Energy has said the tech firm hopes to start work on a £100m gigafactory in the East Midlands as early as next year.

Chief executive David Woolhouse said the manufacturing plant at a site yet to be finalized could employ 1,000 people and support another 2,000 in the supply chain.

Loughborough University’s spin-off, based on the University Science and Business Park, has spent years researching and developing low-carbon hydrogen fuel cells for use in everything from bicycles, cars and planes to people’s homes.

Gigafactories are the next generation of large-scale electric vehicle battery manufacturing plants.

Two months ago, Intelligent Energy won the innovation in technology category at the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards 2022.

According to the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, Intelligent Energy expects to make a decision on a site for the plant by the end of June and hopes to obtain planning consent by the end of 2022 and start construction in early 2023. .

LLEP said potential East Midlands locations for the gigafactory include Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, Loughborough University science and business park and a third site which Mr Woolhouse would not name.

However, Mr Woodhouse said the plans would require strong government support due to the high cost of developing a site in the UK compared to, say, somewhere in Germany.

He said, “We’re going to build a gigafactory somewhere. It’s a matter of where and when. Our factory will cost around £100 million. It’s a lot to do without government support.

“It would be nice to be in the UK, but the difference in land prices is huge between the UK and the EU. What would cost us £20 million here would be £2 million in Germany.

“We would also probably have more government support there, and that part of the world understands the hydrogen economy better than people here.

“UK plc should make sure we stay here. If we leave, this know-how would be lost for this country.

“The government must prioritize starting a fuel cell industry, which would employ not thousands, but tens of thousands of people.”

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