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County firm powers up order book

AGM Batteries Ltd has been awarded a £1.48 million UK government grant to help develop the cells.

The project will result in an upgrade at the factory and the recruitment of 13 extra staff. Five have already started with a further eight to come.

Operations manager Steve Farmer said the prototype cells will be tested and developed at Thurso for the manufacturers of electric vehicles, including buses.

But he told the John O'Groat Journal it could be about four years before the batteries are used in the vehicles.

Mr Farmer explained the company has received the grant from Innovate UK as part of a government initiative to develop durable, lighter-weight, high performing and recyclable batteries in Britain to power the next generation of electric vehicles.

The Faraday Battery Challenge has a fund of £246 million and is part of the Industrial Strategy Challnge Fund launched last year. Once the prototype batteries are tested and developed, they could then be scaled up to full production.

The company's involvement in the initiative was yesterday welcomed by Keith Muir, of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

He said: " We have been working closely with the new owners of AGM Batteries Ltd since the company was taken over in 2014. We are delighted with the progress they have already made in creating high-value jobs in the local economy, and with the promise of a really exciting future for the company and their impact in our area as the world moves to a new, cleaner low-carbon economy."

Mr Muir, HIE's head of business growth for the area, added: "AGM is leading the way in developing new solutions as the automotive sector in particular adopts a new clean technology to replace fossil fuels. With our long heritage of being at the cutting edge of the energty industry, we are very optimistic that Caithness will be a major beneficiary of the advances that AGM is leading."

AGM batteries has the largest lithium cell scale-up plant in the UK and is one out of a few in Europe. It is well placed to help develop cells that will power the next generation of electric vehicles. 

Although the lithium ion (Li-ion) technology was invented in the UK, it was Japanese technology giant Sony that commercialised and marketed the first products. AGM aim to bring battery cell-making back to the UK by supporting the UK's niche vehicles sectors. Its Thurso factory enables customers to scale and transfer emerging new cell technologies to manufacture.

The firm is working with other companies, universities and partners internationally on next generation of cells.

 

Source - John O'Groat Journal