Germany to Take on Tesla With Gigafactory Rival
Taking inspiration from Tesla Inc.’s Gigafactory, German executives are gearing up for the introduction of a new work space for a lithium-ion battery plant.
Terra E Holding GmbH will choose one of five candidate sites in Germany or a neighboring country next month to build its 34 gigawatt-hour battery factory, Frankfurt-based Chief Executive Officer Holger Gritzka said in an interview. The former ThyssenKrupp AG manager has helped to assemble a consortium of 17 German companies and won government support for the project, which will break ground in the fourth quarter of 2019 and reach full capacity in 2028, he said.
The decision to introduce or set up this factory, is the latest sign from the world’s fourth largest economy that, it is setting itself up for a new phase of energy revolution. Stabilizing the intermittent flows of wind & solar power across electricity networks is the main aim of this process by using Lithium influenced ion batteries. They’re also projected to power millions of plug-in cars expected to roll off German production lines beginning early next decade.
“We have to be better in process technology than competitors, a constant step ahead,” said Gritzka, who emphasized that Terra E will be counting on Germany’s competitive edge in manufacturing robotics and automated production to make money.
Global battery-making capacity is set to more than double by 2021, reaching 278 gigawatt-hours, up from about 103 gigawatt-hours in the second quarter, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Asia electronics makers including South Korea’s LG Ltd. and Samsung SDI Co. currently control the market. Tesla will become the world’s No. 2 battery maker once it finishes building its $5 billion, 35 gigawatt-hour Gigafactory in Nevada, according to the London-based researcher.
Terra E will be seeking strategic investors that are attracted by the government-paid research embedded in Terra’s technology and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s endorsement of the company, said Gritzka. In May, Merkel broke ground at another 500 million-euro plant to assemble lithium-ion energy-storage units for Daimler AG, which produces Mercedes-Benz and Maybach luxury cars.
Terra E will focus its batteries on stationary units, Gritzka said. The project aims to tap an emerging market for mobile and non-automotive power and storage, said Gritzka. The bet rests on projected faster demand for lithium storage in the next decade.