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EU ‘stepping up its game’ on battery gigafactories in Europe

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The European Union (EU) is ‘stepping up its game on battery gigafactories‘, European Commission executive VP Maroš Šefčovič said at the Giga Europe conference today (12 March).

The two-day event in Stockholm, Sweden, is being put on by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and brings together Europe’s battery manufacturing ecosystem, a nascent industry that has looked at risk in the last 18 months amidst increased competition from the US, which is supporting significant manufacturing capacity from new gigafactories, and incumbent China.

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While there was an acknowledgement across the several keynote speakers of the scale of the challenge Europe (and the world) faces in scaling up battery manufacturing, mainly lithium-ion (Li-ion) technologies, there is still optimism that Europe can catch up and be a major player in gigafactories, something Charlotte Lejon from the Swedish Energy Agency unequivocally stated.

While the bulk of manufacturing capacity will go to the electric vehicle (EV) segment, the energy storage sector will also provide some offtake.

Šefčovič via videolink said that the EU is ‘stepping up our game in Europe’ in supporting the sector’s scale-up, and has recently adjusted its state aid policies under the ‘Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework’ to provide additional support to projects that would ‘match the support offered by a third country’.

Northvolt, for its Drei Germany gigafactory, was the first recipient under the revised policy, receiving a c.€1 billion package in January 2024.

Northvolt's first gigafactory, Northvolt Ett, in Northern Sweden
Northvolt’s first gigafactory, Northvolt Ett, in Northern Sweden. The firm has six gigafactory projects, plus ESS assembly, battery recycling, R&D and joint venture projects. Image: Northvolt.

Northvolt’s chief supply chain officer Dennis van Schie sat down for a Q&A with Roger Atkins, business consultant and regular speaker on the industry, in which he discussed the company’s approach to, and challenges in scaling up.

“We have had delays, but our customers are backing us and we’re keeping going. We were shipping thousands of cells by the end of last year and see it at tens of thousands of cells by end-2024. It took the automotive industry 10-20 years to get off the ground. We’re super confident on our ramp up, yields and many other metrics are constantly improving,” van Schie said.

Energy-Storage.news will publish more content from the event, including on Northvolt and its plans, in the coming days and weeks.

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