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Europe's Coming Gigafactory Boom

Zak Derler's picture

Zak Derler is a freelance journalist, based in London.

  • Member since 2018
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  • Apr 6, 2018 12:00 pm GMT
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Laying the foundations for Daimler’s second battery factory in Kamenz, Germany

By 2020, at least seven new gigawatt-size battery factories are scheduled to start operating in Europe, writes Zak Derler of Climate Home News. European companies, such as car manufacturer Daimler, invest in their own regionally-based gigafactories to meet the battery demand for electric vehicles in the continent and the world.

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Article courtesy Climate Home News

The race to electrify Europe is on.

By 2020 at least seven new gigawatt-size battery factories are scheduled to start operating on the continent, with another three developments rumoured.

Within a decade, these facilities will be churning out 80 GWh a year. More than three times the 2017 global production capacity of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Of the five leading global manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries, three are planning, or have begun building, gigafactories in Europe: LG, Samsung and the Tesla/Panasonic partnership

‘Gigafactories’, a term coined in the US by Elon Musk’s Tesla, produce batteries on the scale of more than 1GWh per year. Until this year, Europe had no factories of that size.

But with demand for electric vehicles on the continent predicted to surge (Dutch bank, ING, predicts that all new vehicle sales in Europe will be electric by 2035), a new battery infrastructure is coming for Europe.

Of the five leading global manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries, three are planning, or have begun building, gigafactories in Europe: LG, Samsung and the Tesla/Panasonic partnership.

Meeting the demand

The push from these established US, Japanese and South Korean players has prompted a number of European companies to invest in the construction of their own regionally-based gigafactories.

Car manufacturer Daimler has two planned facilities in its home country of Germany. Daimler is also working on plants in the US, China and Thailand.

“The local production of batteries is an important success factor for the electric offensive of Mercedes-Benz cars”

A spokesperson for the company, which owns Mercedes-Benz, told Climate Home News the company would be investing more than €1 billion in a global battery production network.

“The local production of batteries is an important success factor for the electric offensive of Mercedes-Benz Cars and decisive for flexibly and efficiently meeting the global demand for electric vehicles. The production network is thus very well positioned for the mobility of the future,” she said.

European start-ups have caught on to the EV business opportunity. Swedish company Northvolt plans to spend $4.7bn on a Nordic plant and Germany’s TerraE has announced two plants at undisclosed locations in Germany.

Editor’s Note:

This article first appeared on Climate Home News and is republished here under this website’s Creative Commons licence. The original article contains an interactive map where you can see the storage facilities.

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Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Apr 6, 2018

Great news. I have my differences with the windmill, solar panel advocates. And Tesla electric hot rods seem besides the point. But electric technology works, is expanding, and storage systems are a vital part of the modern electric machine.

We in Minnesota have our regional differences with global energy strategies. For example, April 6 and we still have 2 feet of eye blasting white snow on the deeply frozen ground. And the US can’t yet figure out how to secure personal, industrial, and government computer privacy. So I express sincere respect for the skilled German scientists who gave me opensuse Linux (derived from abandoned US software) to keep my brain alive. Similarly, I hope electric technology development gets a powerful boost from EU science.

Remember, most every car is also an electric power plant. And 12volt DC is food for modern electric machines.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on Apr 6, 2018

So I express sincere respect for the skilled German scientists who gave me opensuse Linux (derived from abandoned US software) to keep my brain alive.

Actually, it was Finnish Linus Torvalds who wrote Linux kernel at the University of Helsinki.

Gigafactories depend on materials which are not mined in Europe, such as cobalt. Looks like there is going to be a shortage of this battery material at least for a few years.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Apr 6, 2018

Finland had the world’s best DOS software site; Garbo.UWasa.fi long before Linus Torvalds. DOS real mode drivers on the intel platform is the kernel basis. But he (and millions more) deserves credit. German SuSE is far and away my favorite distro for 20 years. Norwegian Atmel made great microcontrollers that made the Italian Arduino world leaders. I could go on, but EU has profound science talent, and profound need. Politics be damned.

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