What is a gigafactory and why do we need one?
Plans for the UK's first gigafactory, Britishvolt, in Northumberland was recently granted planning permission to build its huge plant in Blyth. This has been hailed as good news for jobs and the economy, but it is also a necessary component of our decarbonisation strategy.
The word “gigafactory” was coined by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, in 2013, when he built the world’s first gigafactory in Nevada. The prefix “giga” means “giant” and is used to refer to units of billions, such as gigawatts or gigabytes. So, this is essentially a very large factory.
To date, the term has been applied to huge factories manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles (EVs). Tesla’s first gigafactory has a planned annual production rate of 35 gigawatt-hours, enough to put 500,000 EVs onto the road. Musk claims that 100 similar installations would be enough to meet the world’s energy needs.
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