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BHEL and Libcoin in final talks over Indian lithium-ion battery gigafactory

Prime minister Narendra Modi seeks to foster domestic manufacturing capabilities in India. Image: Al Jazeera.

Indian state majority-owned firm Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Libcoin are in final stage talks over setting up what they have dubbed as a lithium-ion Gigafactory in India.

Libcoin is a consortium including Sydney-based firm Magnis Energy, Duggal Family Trust and New York-based lithium-ion battery specialist Charge CCCV(C4V).

The Government of India, via the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, has endorsed the project that would start at 1GWh capacity and is set to be scaled up to 30GWh over time, according to a release from Magnis Energy.

Magnis has already announced plans to build three large-scale Gigafactories globally, according the company's website:

  1. Australia / Townsville for 15GWh
  2. USA / New York for 15GWh  (Accelerated production plan enabled to commence production in 2019)
  3. Germany / North Rhine Westfalia for 30GWh.

Magnis chairman Frank Poullas commented: “We see India as one of the largest markets in the world for Lithium-ion batteries and to potentially build one of the world’s largest Lithium-ion battery Gigafactories with a partner who possesses the skill and expertise of BHEL is exciting for the company.”

Libcoin chairman Rajan Duggal said: “Our plan is to be the largest Lithium-ion battery manufacturer in India, and we aim to be the first mover in one of the world’s largest markets. The interest this project is generating especially in the Indian automobile sector is very exciting.”

Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, president, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) and president & MD, Customized Energy Solutions (India), told Energy-Storage.News: “India is expected to attract investment in up to four ‘Gigafactories’ for advanced Li-ion batteries, attracting over US$3 billion in investments in the next 3 years. Recently, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Libcoin are in discussion to form a consortium to build India’s first lithium-ion battery (LIB) gigafactory."

Walawalkar noted that previously, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) in collaboration with Toshiba and Denso had announced plans to set up a Lithium-ion battery production facility purely dedicated to automobiles in Gujarat. Meanwhile, Exide had also announced their plans to set up Li-ion manufacturing with two different partners.

Walawalkar added that apart from this there are at least five other large industrial consortiums who are trying to finalise their plans for manufacturing in India.

Last June, two research institutions and local developer Raasi Solar Power also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) related to lithium-ion cell manufacturing. In this case, the organisations want to bring down the cost of lithium-ion cell manufacturing below INR15,000 (US$222) / kWh and create batteries for rooftop solar with a 25-year lifespan, by setting up a manufacturing facility in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

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