The list of planned gigawatt-scale battery cell factories in Europe continues to grow, following the latest announcement from CATL. The Chinese lithium-ion battery maker has revealed plans to invest €7.34 billion in the construction of a 100 GWh battery plant in Debrecan, Hungary – the biggest greenfield investment in the country's history.
Subject to shareholder approval, construction of the first production facilities will start later this year. The planned facility, which covers an area of 221 hectares in the Southern Industrial Park of Debrecen, will help to accelerate e-mobility and the energy transition in Europe, said CATL. It will supply cells and modules to European automakers, including existing customers such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Stellantis, and Volkswagen.
As part of its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint in battery production, CATL will use electricity from renewable energy. It said it is considering the development of solar projects with local partners in the country. CATL also aims to build a sustainable and circular battery value chain by examining the possibility of joining forces with local partners to set up facilities for battery materials in Europe.
The new battery plant in Hungary will be CATL’s second European battery gigafactory. It is currently working on building a much smaller plant in Germany – its first factory outside of China. With a total investment of €1.8 billion, CATL plans to achieve a production capacity of 14 GWh. It broke ground on the facility in Arnstadt, Germany, in 2019. It is scheduled to start cell production by the end of this year.
“There is no doubt that our plant in Debrecen will enable us to further sharpen our competitive edge, better respond to our European customers, and accelerate the transition to e-mobility in Europe,” said Robin Zeng, founder and chairman of CATL.
As part of its strategic efforts to reduce its dependence on Asian battery cell imports, Europe is set to host around 35 gigafactories by 2035, according to some of the latest predictions. According to data from the EU's important projects of common European interest (IPCEI) fund, a massive build-up and expansion of battery production capacity is now being planned.
The annual production volume of lithium-ion cells in the EU's member states – plus Norway and EU accession state Serbia – reached 35 GWh in 2020, accounting for around 15% of the global total. That figure is expected to rise to 600 GWh to 870 GWh, or 43% of the estimated world market, by the end of this decade.
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