Daimler: Deutsche ACCUmotive to offer stationary PV storage

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The company is currently expanding its production facility in the eastern Saxon town of Kamenz. At the same time, Daimler said it will halt battery cell production at the site by December 2015.

Battery storage for photovoltaic systems is currently all the rage. The Daimler subsidiary Deutsche ACCUmotive based in the Saxon town of Kamenz could become a key new player in the market. "We are entering the business with industrial and stationary storage in addition to our batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles," said Deutsche ACCUmotive Chairman Frank Blome in an interview with pv magazine.

The number of competitors in the German market offering battery storage PV systems is relatively small. In Kamenz, Daimler already has a working serial production line at the Deutsche ACCUmotive facility. In view of their use in automobiles, the company’s lithium-ion batteries already meet high security requirements. The concept for the new stationary and industrial lithium-ion storage systems is completed and Daimler is now looking for customers, Blome said, adding, "We will design the capacity to meet demand."

The auto giant recently announced that its Kamenz-based subsidiary Li-Tec would cease production of battery cells by December 2015. For the foreseeable future, the production of battery cells for electric cars in Germany is simply not economical, a Daimler spokesman explained. There is also significant overcapacity in the market and competitors from Japan and Korea have reached much greater economies of scale since their battery cells are not just limited to electric cars. While Daimler points out that Li-Tec batteries were "absolutely competitive," demand for large quantities was not sufficient enough to make production cost effective. Daimler will continue research and development activities at Li-Tec and expand production at Deutsche ACCUmotive. A majority of the 280 Li-Tec employees are likely to find new jobs there, according to the company. Negotiations with workers are set to begin in January. In 2016, Deutsche ACCUmotive will begin manufacturing the new generation of batteries for the electric Smart with battery cells purchased from LG Chem.

Germany’s main metalworkers’ union, IG Metall, however, is demanding an action plant from the federal government and industry to maintain battery cell research and production in Germany. Otherwise, it argues, Germany will suffer a further loss of innovation leadership in key technologies as it already has with solar cells and plasma screens, IG Metall Vice Chairman Jörg Hofmann told news agency dpa-AFX. Hofmann called on the federal government to provide more support and to more effectively link research grants to production in Germany.