Piling contractor joins Somerset gigafactory scheme

Preliminary work is underway on the site of a £4bn gigafactory in Somerset, and a piling contractor has been appointed.

Agratas, the battery division of Indian conglomerate Tata, confirmed last week that it is building a 40GWh battery cell factory on the 616 acre Gravity Smart Campus near Bridgwater, Somerset.

At the same time, Kelston Sparkes announced it has won a three-year groundworks, earthworks and piling-mat-installation contract for the scheme.

The value of the deal was undisclosed.

A main contractor for the site has not been identified yet. Stantec is providing integrated design services for the factory, having previously acted as a strategic advisor to Tata for the Gravity Smart Campus site.

Confirming the appointment of Kelston Sparkes, a spokesperson for Agratas told Construction News: “Work has already begun on site, including the crushing and stockpiling of 220,000 tonnes of recycled and reused material from existing structures and other local sites, ready to build the platform for our buildings.”

Construction of the manufacturing facility will be completed in phases, with Agratas planning to start battery production in 2026.

The new gigafactory will initially manufacture vehicle batteries for Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Motors (both part of the Tata conglomerate). It will be the biggest of its kind in the UK, Agratas claimed, adding that it will contribute “almost half of the projected battery manufacturing capacity required for the UK automotive sector” by the early 2030s.

Gigafactory plans have experienced mixed fortunes. ISG picked up a £300m contract in December 2020 to build a plant in Northumberland for Britishvolt, but the latter went into administration in January 2023 and a deal to rescue it stalled last month.

Wates is building a gigafactory for electric car batteries in Sunderland, and Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds told CN last year that his company was targeting the sector.

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