French start-up plans 16 GWh battery factory

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From pv magazine France.

French start-up Verkor – with the help of EU-funded sustainable energy research body EIT InnoEnergy, energy and automation digital solutions company Schneider Electric and Paris based engineer IDEC Group – hopes to join the likes of power company Total and carmaker PSA in manufacturing electric vehicle batteries in its domestic market.

The upstart company, only founded last month, is planning a lithium-ion battery gigafactory and has stated: “Verkor was founded in response to the growing gap between the expected demand for batteries and the expected European supply.”

That gap, driven by anticipated strong demand in Italy and Spain, as well as France, will drive the need for up to three such factories on French soil alone this decade, according to the start-up. “At this point,” said the company, “only one project using disruptive technology will see the light of day in the region. So there is room for other projects.”

EIT InnoEnergy chief executive Diego Pavia said Verkor’s ambition fits perfectly with the EU’s intent to establish sustainable battery production in the bloc. “Anchored in our work with the European Battery Alliance, our mission is to set up a sustainable value chain for batteries in Europe,” said Pavia. “By setting up the site in France, we can produce batteries with a carbon footprint nearly four times smaller than that of China.” He added, France boasts an highly qualified workforce and industrial players throughout the production value chain.

Battery production at the proposed Verkor fab would start in 2023 with an initial annual manufacturing capacity of 16 GWh which could rise to 50 GWh, depending on demand, according to the start-up.

IDEC Group and Grenoble-based partner ER2I would lead on land investigation and design and construction of the fab with Schneider Electric bringing industrial expertise and European battery supply chain links.

The 200ha factory, for which a site is yet to be identified, would cost an initial €1.6 billion and would create more than 2,000 jobs while supporting thousands more in its supply chain, according to Verkor.

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