Battery Cells Made in Europe

Author: Michael Vogel

Apr 27, 2022 Automotive

Just a few years ago, it looked as if hardly any battery cell factories were being built in Europe – and if they were, it was mainly by Asian companies. Now, more than 30 factories are in operation or being planned, often with European owners.

It is both energy storage and power center: Next to the electric motor, the battery is the heart of every electric vehicle. It must comply with regulations and be safe during operation, transport, or repair and disposal. This is why DEKRA operates a test laboratory in Arnhem, Netherlands, where all relevant battery tests can be carried out. The spectrum for battery testing is very broad and includes all stages of construction: from the individual cell over battery modules to complete battery packs. Companies that assemble battery modules and battery packs can also have their finished packs tested at the DEKRA laboratory.
Europe is evolving from procrastinator to a driver of electromobility. Thirteen European countries are now aiming to establish their own gigafactories for battery cells. We took a closer look at some of these projects in Europe.
In Salzgitter, Swedish company Northvolt and Volkswagen are building a factory for battery cells, which will go into series production in 2024/25 and supply a capacity of 24 gigawatt hours per year (GWh/y). Northvolt also plans to start up a cell factory in Heide, Schleswig-Holstein, in 2025. Cellforce, a joint venture between Volkswagen subsidiary Porsche and cell manufacturer Customcells, plans to start building a factory near Reutlingen in Baden-Württemberg in 2022, with a planned capacity of 0.1 GWh/y.
With Automotive Cell Company (ACC), another heavyweight (see “France”) wants to build a factory for battery cells in Kaiserslautern, where Opel has a site, starting in 2023; target capacity: 32 GWh/y.
Chinese supplier CATL is building a gigafactory near Erfurt. Initial annual capacity: 24 Gwh. By 2026: 60 GWh. The Chinese supplier SVOLT wants to build a factory with an annual capacity of 24 GWh west of Saarbrücken. Production will start before 2024.
Renault is cooperating with French start-up Verkor to build a factory in Douai in northern France. Plans are for 9 GWh/y from 2024 on and 24 GWh/y starting in 2030. Independently of this, Verkor wants to build a factory in Dunkirk in northern France. A capacity of 16 GWh/y is planned for 2025. Also in Douai, the Chinese Envision Group wants to build a factory for 30 GWh/y starting in 2029, with Renault as primary customer. Automotive Cell Company (ACC) is planning a factory for battery cells in Douvrin in northern France from 2023, target capacity: 32 GWh/y. ACC is owned in equal parts by Saft (a French energy storage manufacturer), Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis (Group PSA including Opel, Fiat Chrysler).
Great Britain
The start-up Britishvolt has begun construction of a gigafactory in Blyth in the north of England. Production start: 2023, medium-term target: 30 GWh/y. The start-up AMTE Power is currently producing cells in small series in Scotland. A joint gigafactory of the two start-ups in South Wales has been under discussion for some time as part of a government subsidy. In addition, Chinese supplier Envision AESC is apparently planning a factory, starting in 2024, with 38 GWh/y.
Automotive Cell Company (ACC; see “France”) recently announced a factory in Termoli on the Adriatic coast. Italvolt plans to build a factory in Scarmagno near Turin. Production will start in 2024, capacity: 45 GWh/y. The investors of Italvolt, founded in 2020, are venture capital firms. Furthermore, Italian battery manufacturer FAAM is building a factory near Naples. The plan is to produce 8 GWh per year. FAAM wants to expand its portfolio in this way.
Two companies are building factories in the model country for electromobility. Morrow is building in Arendal in southern Norway, planned production start: 2023, capacity target: 42 GWh/y. The start-up’s owners are the Norwegian energy group Agder Energi and the owner of waste company Noah. Norwegian start-up Freyr plans to open a factory in Mo i Rana, northern Norway, in 2023/24, medium-term target: 43 GWh/y.
LG Chem, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of battery cells, has been producing in a factory in Wroclaw since 2018. Customers include Volkswagen and Renault. The South Korean company is aiming for an annual capacity of 65 GWh in Poland, compared with the currently strong 15 GWh.
Northvolt is planning and operating two factories. The factory in Skellefteå in northern Sweden has been supplying customers since this year. They plan to increase the production capacity to 60 GWh/y. Northvolt’s shareholders also include BMW and Volkswagen. Together with Volvo, Northvolt is also planning a factory in Gothenburg. Commissioning: 2025, capacity: up to 50 GWh/y.
Serbian company ElevenEs wants to build a gigafactory with 16 GWh, starting in 2024 in Subotica, near the Hungarian border.
Slovakian company InoBat Auto is planning to build a factory near Bratislava. There is talk of a capacity of 10 GWh per year. Building starts in 2024. One of the investors is Czech energy supplier CEZ.
Volkswagen is planning a 40 GWh/y factory in Sagunt, north of Valencia. Start of series production: 2025. In Badajoz on the Portuguese border, Spanish materials specialist Phi4Tech wants to build a 10 GWh/y factory, start date open. In Noblejas, southeast of Madrid, Phi4Tech wants to operate a pilot plant, with a capacity of up to 2 GWh/y. Start-up BasqueVolt wants to build a factory in the Basque Country with a capacity of 10 GWh/y, production start date: 2025.
Czech Republic
The state-owned company CEZ is planning to build a gigafactory, but still seems to be looking for partners. Volkswagen/Škoda is mentioned from time to time in this context. Magna Energy Storage also operates a plant for battery cells in Horní Suchá, near the Polish border. The company was founded with Czech capital and also uses a technology that was developed in the Czech Republic. Current annual capacity 1.2 GWh.
SK On operates a factory with an annual capacity of 17 GWh in Komárom, located between Budapest and Bratislava. A second plant will be completed at the site this year. Target capacity: 10 GWh/y. SK On’s third planned plant site is Iváncsa near Budapest. It is scheduled to start production in 2024 and will have a higher production capacity than the existing plants. SK On is the battery division of South Korean company SK Innovation, which was outsourced in 2021. A second Korean supplier also manufactures cells in Hungary with Samsung SDI, namely in Göd near Budapest. Further expansion is expected to increase capacity to 50 GWh per year.
What happens at the DEKRA site in Arnhem
At the EV Test Center Arnhem, DEKRA offers a wide range of e-mobility services such as mechanical tests, including vibration and impact tests. Other tests are designed to simulate the battery’s behavior in its surrounding environments, and the testers also focus on temperature and air pressure simulations. Charging and discharging tests are supposed to help detect possible operating errors; in addition, testers check short-circuit resistance and any potential fire hazards. Testing is carried out in accordance with all common standards, such as ISO 12405, IEC 62660, UN 38.3, or ECE R100.
In addition to the batteries and battery packs already mentioned, DEKRA engineers test the electrical and functional safety of all electrical components, including motor and battery management, voltage converters, charging cables and connectors, and charging columns. In addition to batteries, the focus is on AC as well as DC charging stations, battery management systems, connectors, cables, relays, and fuses. EMC testing for automotive components, passenger cars, and commercial vehicles is also possible in Arnhem.
Find more information about DEKRA services in Arnhem here.