Spain joins the gigafactory race


From pv magazine Spain

The Spanish Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, announced on Thursday that the government intends to create a public-private consortium led by car manufacturer SEAT-Volkswagen and Spanish energy company Iberdrola to set up the first EV battery factory in Spain.

“The project will allow the development of a set of actions that guarantee that the necessary infrastructure, facilities and mechanisms exist in Spain to independently and competitively manufacture electric vehicles,” Maroto said.

No time frame nor specific investment figures for the project were provided, but the minister ensured that it would be “the first battery factory in Spain” and located close to the SEAT factory in Martorell, near Barcelona, in the region of Catalonia.

The project will be part of Spain's Strategic Projects for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE) initiative, which aims to accelerate the transition to electric cars.

The agreement coincides with the negotiations between the government and Volkswagen for the manufacture of electric cars in Spain and comes a few days after Wayne Griffiths, president of SEAT and Cupra, announced that the manufacturer was in talks with the government to draw up a plan of electromobility focused on the manufacture of small electric cars, predictably in the SEAT Martorell factory. This battery factory could be one of the main sources of support for the project.

The regional government of Catalonia is currently supporting a project to build a battery production and recycling plant, Battery Hub, which is looking to secure €6.8 billion of the €140 billion that Spain will receive from the Next Generation EU plan.

The regional government of Valencia also recently announced the creation of an alliance of companies led by the inverter manufacturer Power Electronics in which Ford, Stadler, Zeleros, Iberdrola, IDOM and battery manufacturer Ampere Energy are also participating. Press representatives from Power Electronics told pv magazine that “production is expected to start in 2024” and that it was intended to carry out the project in any case, although “logically, the injection of Next Generation funds would streamline the entire process.” 

Several gigafactory projects are already underway in Europe. Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt is planning to build two manufacturing facilities in Sweden and Poland. The company is also planning a 50-50 joint venture with Volkswagen to establish another 16 GWh battery cell factory, in the German state of Lower Saxony. Furthermore, Italian start-up Italvolt wants to build a €4 billion EV battery manufacturing facility in Italy. The site for the project is currently being identified; the factory’s initial capacity is expected to reach 45 GWh.

Another gigafactory is under construction by U.S. electric car maker Tesla near Berlin, Germany, and another is planned by French battery cell producer Verkor in Rodez, about 150 km northeast of Toulouse.

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