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German consortium plans European “Gigafactory”

Render of Tesla's Nevada Gigafactory

A group of 17 companies and research organisations have formed the Terra E consortium to develop a large-scale lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities in Germany.

The recently formed TerraE-Holding company will lead the consortium and head up the implementation plan. Its 17 members include companies from the industrial supply chain and include “infrastructure manufacturing planners, material producers, machine engineering companies, cell manufacturers, and industrial consumers.” The group had its first meeting in Hanau in mid-July.

TerraE was itself formed in May 2017 by six member companies of Germany’s lithium-ion battery competence network (KLIB) with the purpose of establishing large-scale series manufacturing. The company is lead by former ThyssenKrupp executive Holger Gritzka.

KLIB is itself made up of members from manufacturers through to battery end users, including sector heavyweights such as the Fraunhofer Institute, Umicore, BASF, 3M, Bosch, Leclanché, Siemens and Daimler.

According to TerraE, large-scale production sites are planned at two German locations. The factories will be operated as “foundries,” it said, meaning TerraE will build and operate them and will produce li-ion cell arrangements and products according to customer specifications.

In comments to news agency Bloomberg, Gritzka said that the scheme already had government support and that construction would begin in 2019. Full production – aimed at 34GWh per year – would then be reached by 2028.

The so-called “Gigafactory” evidently takes its name from that given to the Nevada battery factory built by electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla and electronics giant Panasonic – although at this stage it does not appear that either party is involved in this project.

In a statement, the company added that it was beginning discussions with potential customers and investors, in particular from firms linked to industrial equipment, energy storage and electromobility (e.g. city buses, passenger cars, trucks). The goal is to secure the support of firms that could benefit from local li-ion cell supplies in order to ensure delivery security – some of which may even include members of the TerraE consortium.

TerraE is also in negotiations with partners inside and outside of the consortium, with a view to securing “a long-term technological advantage,” it said.

 

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