Saft, Tianneng plan 5.5 GWh lithium-ion venture in China

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France-based storage system provider Saft has created a joint venture with Tianneng Battery Group, a Chinese manufacturer of lead acid batteries, to expand lithium-ion battery production and explore the Chinese market for battery storage and electromobility applications.

“Manufacturing will be based at the Changxing Gigafactory, with a potential capacity of 5.5 GWh, among which several gigawatt-hours are already in operation,” Total said in a statement.

Manufacturing at Tianneng’s production facility will mainly focus on advanced Li-ion cells, modules and packs, the two companies said. The companies did not disclose the size of the planned joint investment.

“This is a first strategic move driven by Total, following the acquisition of Saft in 2016, to grow Saft’s activity in China, the world’s largest renewables market, as well as in the ESS segment as an essential component to the large-scale development of intermittent renewable energies,” said Total CEO, Patrick Pouyanné.

Tianneng is based in Huzhou, in China’s Zhejiang province. It specializes in the production of lead-acid automotive batteries, lithium-ion batteries, and solar cells. According to Total, the company currently employs around 20,000 people at eight production sites across China.

Total recently expanded in the e-mobility market with the acquisition of companies such as G2 Mobility, PitPoint and a significant chunk of Clean Energy. In July 2016, the company acquired French battery producer Saft in a deal thought to be worth $1.1 billion. It is also active in the solar sector through several group units, including U.S. module maker SunPower and Total Solar.