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Europe’s ‘first’ LFP gigafactory opens in Serbia

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ElevenEs has opened a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) gigafactory in Serbia, which it claimed is the first in Europe.

The facility in Subotica has opened with the aim of reaching 500MWh of annual production capacity in 2024, ElevenES said today (24 April), though a media statement didn’t reveal the capacity it has opened with.

When it launched the project in 2021, ElevenES said it was targeting 300MWh of production capacity in 2023. The firm, which was spun out of aluminium processing company Al Pack Group, is aiming to reach 48GWh of production capacity in five years’ time across two gigafactories.

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The LFP gigafactory will produce prismatic cells for the electric vehicle (EV) and stationary energy storage system (ESS) markets. LFP has a better fire safety record and, until the lithium carbonate price spikes of 2022, a lower cost than industry incumbent lithium-ion technology nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC).

LFP does however have a lower energy density than NMC, making it more suitable for ESS where this is less of a concern. However, LFP is starting to take market share in the EV space, with Tesla announcing it would switch to LFP batteries for some specific EV models, and forecasts say it will be dominant by 2030.

Nemanja Mikac, CEO at ElevenEs said: “The expansion of our R&D center and opening of our first
production facility in Serbia is a huge milestone for ElevenEs and the European battery cell market as
a whole.”

“LFP has proven its potential to transform the EV market recently and, according to McKinsey, is forecasted to be the number one battery cell chemistry utilised globally by the end of this decade. We’re proud of our contribution to reducing the global footprint starting with our battery cells’ local production.”

ElevenEs claimed it is the first LFP gigafactory to open in Europe, a claim which could, in theory, be made by two other companies. Freyr held an opening event for its customer qualification plant (CQP) production line at its first gigafactory in Norway last month, which is expected to fully launch in 2024.

The CQP is producing sample cells to validate the LFP-based semi-solid cell production technology it is employing, as well as providing operational learnings and training for Freyr’s larger gigafactory buildout. The CQP is not producing continuously, but if it did it would have an annual production capacity of over a GWh.

An LFP gigafactory in Turkey from Kontrolmatik is expected to start commercial production during the current quarter too, and pilot production and testing may have already started some months ago according to comments provided to Energy-Storage.news by the firm.

Europe and the US are both looking to build out domestic lithium-ion battery supply chain capacity, from metals processing to component production through to full cell and ESS solutions.

Project announcements in the US have soared since it passed the Inflation Reduction Act in August last year, with planned lithium-ion production capacity growing twice as fast as Europe’s since that date. A trade body for transport in Europe recently warned that two-thirds of Europe’s planned capacity is at risk of delay, downscaling or cancellation because of how attractive the US market has become.

However, more recently the trade body for the European rechargeable and lithium battery industries, RECHARGE, said the European Commission’s proposed directives to support the battery supply chain are a “game changer” for making the continent competitive in this area.

 

Source: Energy Storage

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