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Dutch battery maker signs agreement for €1.6bn Chinese gigafactory


Dutch energy storage and battery company Lithium Werks has fired the starting gun on what it hopes will be a scramble among developing economies to host its ambitious plans for multiple international battery gigafactories.

The fast growing lithium iron phosphate battery maker – which has absorbed Super B Lithium B.V. and Valence Technology Inc through M&A activity and which has financial backing from Netherlands development agency Oost NL – announced a grand global ambition today, after signing a framework agreement to build a €1.6 billion ($1.86bn) battery gigafactory in China's Yangtze River Delta.

Plans for the 60-hectare site – which Lithium Werks wants to help it reach a 500 GWh annual production capacity by 2030 – were inked between the battery maker and Chinese Zhejiang Jiashan Economic and Technological Industry Corporation during a state visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to the Netherlands yesterday. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was also in attendance.

With Germany and France trying to steer an EU trade path independent of Donald Trump's isolationist U.S. regime, Rutte had made an international visit to Mr Keqiang in April.

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Lithium Werks' plans for a factory that a company statement said would require €1.6bn of total investment are just the start, according to chairman Kees Koolen – an early backer of controversial ride hailing app Uber – who said, in the statement: “Other countries and partners are invited to take up the dialogue in order to accelerate the roll out in other locations.”

The European battery maker has a stated ambition to roll out a “plan to build multiple gigafactories across the world as part of a 15 to 20-year program that mirrors the long-term business models of the wind and solar industry“.

The statement added, the company expects revenues to top $1bn within two years as it aims to carve out a slice of a battery industry that “will need to respond [to demand] by constructing factories to deliver capacity in excess of 10,000 GWh in the next three decades”.

Lithium Werks has already announced plans to work with the University of Twente to develop a research campus that will house 2,000 engineers and other experts by around 2025, with Oost NL having backed the plans.

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