July 8, 2021: French industrial company Verkor on July 6 said it had raised €100 million with nine partners to build a lithium battery gigafactory with a manufacturing capacity of 50GWh by 2030.
A Verkor Innovation Centre will also be built in Grenoble for the design of advanced battery cells and modules.
“All 10 partners are united by the same vision: to build a competitive, sustainable and local battery cell value chain in Europe,” says Verkor.
The other partners are EIT InnoEnergy, Groupe IDEC, Schneider Electric, Capgemini, Arkema, Tokai COBEX, Renault, EQT Ventures and the Fund for Ecologic Modernisation of Transport, managed by Demeter.
All have invested funds apart from InnoEnergy, ‘who is supporting in many other ways, and is one of the founding investors’, says Verkor, adding that of the €100 million, around two thirds is equity.
Verkor said the European Battery Alliance was also an important partner.
“Verkor is a full part and important player in the EBA ecosystem,” Verkor says. “The EBA has supported Verkor long before Verkor was created. It planted the seed.”
The partners bring many different things to the table. Tokai COBEX, for instance, is a speciality manufacturer of low-carbon, efficient battery anode materials, and Schneider Electric specializes in using digital tools to integrate technologies and services. Arkema is a materials science specialist.
“In three years, Europe has become a global hotspot for battery investment, showing that we can achieve open strategic autonomy in this key industrial sector,” said Maroš Šefčovič, EU Commission vice president for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight.
Market commentators are less rosy-eyed about the prospects of creating gigafactories across Europe. “The European Commission came to the game very late in the day,” says one commentator. “Asia has over a decade’s worth of manufacturing experience that will take new gigafactories time to learn. They have mature supply chains in place and some manufacturers in China have mineral rights agreements for years to come.”