South Africa has opened a pilot lithium-ion research and battery manufacturing facility.
Science and technology minister Naledi Pandor (pictured) said the “precursor pilot facility”, set up in Mbombela in partnership with the University of Limpopo, is part of a ZAR50 million ($3.7m) government-backed lithium-ion battery development initiative.
The facility currently has a staff of 12 and is expected to operate for five years, while feasibility study is launched into the possibility of building a “fully-fledged” manufacturing plant.
According to Pandor, a future Li-ion plant could fuel the rise of a domestic energy storage and electric vehicles batteries industry. Storage “is the key to unlocking renewable energy and increasing its contribution to the energy mix”, Pandor said.
“We know that one of our biggest challenges going forward in South Africa is providing energy to our homes and industries, Pandor said. “We have an abundance of renewable energy potential in our country. We have some of the best conditions for solar energy in the world, and sufficient wind-energy potential to provide us with most of our energy needs.”
Pandor said her department is “busy finalising the broader energy storage roadmap, which will address both on- and off-grid applications and other battery technologies that use South African raw materials”.