Battery start-up Verkor is set to increase European battery cell production with a 16GWh lithium-ion gigafactory in an as yet undisclosed location in France.
With support of EIT Energy, Schneider Electric and the IDEC Group, the new venture will produce low-carbon batteries in France to help meet the increasing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and battery energy stationary storage (BESS).
Construction of the French firm’s first gigafactory is due to begin in 2022 with production commencing in 2023. The initial battery cell capacity of 16GWh will be increased to 50GWh as demand grows.
With an initial investment of €1.6 billion ($1.8 billlion) the facility is expected to generate more than 2,000 jobs and support thousands more in the supply chain. The company is looking for a site in excess of 200 hectares.
Verkor told BEST: “Our plan is to source active raw materials locally, with traceability on the actual sources. We are in touch with chemical companies and raw material suppliers.”
The spokesperson said the company was designing the cells with recycling in mind from the start.
In February, BEST reported that French fossil fuel firm Total plans to build pilot battery manufacturing facilities in Europe combining the knowledge of its lithium-ion battery making arm Saft and vehicle OEM Groupe PSA.
This first phase of the plans include a 8GWh production plant (rising to 24GWh) scheduled to start up in the middle of next year at a cost of €200 million ($220 million), in the northern Hauts-de-France region.
Verkor was founded in response to the need for an increased supply of batteries produced within Europe. It is expected that up to four Gigafactories will be required in France to ensure adequate supply to the growing EV and BESS markets.
Verkor claims France’s low-carbon electricity, will reduce the carbon footprint of batteries by 75% when compared to batteries produced in China.
Diego Pavia, CEO of EIT Energy, said: “Coupled with the Covid recovery, the initiative will further accelerate the French and European battery value chain, from mining to recycling, and boost the growth of hundreds of businesses across France and Europe.”
Schneider Electric will bring expertise to help Verkor build and execute optimised and sustainable operations using the Internet-of-things and the digital connectivity of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
IDEC is a group of companies that build property solutions to suit their clients’ requirements.