Microvast loses US $200m separators grant over ‘China ties’ claim

Microvast loses US $200m separators grant over ‘China ties’ claim

Microvast loses US $200m separators grant over ‘China ties’ claim 330 350 Energy Storage Journal

May 25, 2023: The US Department of Energy has reversed its decision to award Microvast a $200 million grant to build a lithium ion battery separator plant, amid claims the company has links to China.

Republican senator John Barrasso claimed on May 22 the company had “close ties to communist China” and should not receive US government aid or loans.

Barrasso has also introduced draft legislation that would prevent the DOE from making financial awards to firms “beholden to China”.

However, Microvast founder, chairman and CEO Yang Wu (pictured) said on May 24 neither China’s government or the Chinese communist party had any ownership of the firm or influenced operations in any way.

Wu, an American citizen, said he was surprised at the DOE’s decision to withdraw the grant, “which was designed to help build a new facility in Kentucky that would employ hundreds of people”.

In the meantime Microvast intends to continue to invest significantly in its US expansion, Wu said.

 “The DOE decision does not alter our plans to commercialize our polyaramid separator. We will continue to invest in a pilot line that will add 10 million m2 of capacity this year.”

Texas-headquartered Microvast was founded in 2006.

CFO Craig Webster said the firm’s priority was to complete its 4GWh cell and module manufacturing plant in Tennessee — on which work started in 2021 and in which Microvast has invested more than $300 million.

 “Based on our backlog of orders, we expect revenue in the US this year to be in excess of $100 million,” Webster said.

“The DOE decision also has no impact on our liquidity position, and in fact, it gives us more flexibility on how we plan to undertake our expansion initiatives in the US.”

In 2022, Microvast established its new energy storage division in Colorado along with a technology and testing center to support the growth of utility-scale energy storage systems in the US.