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Move Over Tesla, Europe’s Building Its Own Battery Gigafactories


Battery-making gigafactories are about to arrive in Europe, challenging a lead Tesla building at a plant in Nevada and opening the way for a quicker shift toward green power for both cars and utilities.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday is scheduled to break ground at a 500 million-euro ($543 million) plant to assemble lithium-ion energy-storage units for Daimler AG, which produces Mercedes-Benz and Maybach luxury cars.

The facility 130 kilometers (81 miles) south of Berlin highlights a push by both major automakers and power companies into energy storage. The technology is crucial to drive the next generation of green vehicles and to hold electricity from wind and solar farms for when it’s needed most. With two dominant industries moving in the same direction, the cost of batteries is likely to plunge quickly, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“As battery costs fall and their energy density increases, we could see cheaper battery-electric cars than their fuel-burning equivalents by 2030,” said Nikolas Soulopoulos, an analyst with the London-based research arm of Bloomberg LP.

Global battery-making capacity is set to more than double by 2021, reaching 278 gigawatt-hours, up from about 103 gigawatt-hours now, according to BNEF. Europe’s market share is expected to almost double over that time from 2.5 percent.

Large-scale factories planned in Sweden, Hungary and Poland, as well as Daimler’s battery assembly plant in Germany, are expected to feed demand from automakers such as Volkswagen AG and Renault SA. That will cut the cost of lithium-ion packs by 43 percent and make electric cars a mainstream reality, the researcher estimates.


For the utilities, cheaper batteries reduce the cost of storage units that smooth the variable flows of electric power to the grid from renewables. At Enel SpA, the biggest distributor in Italy, pairing a battery with a wind farm helped grid managers improve forecasts for electricity output from the plant by as much as 30 percent.

“Batteries are clearly a key enabler for renewables penetration,” said Riccardo Amoroso, the head of innovation at Enel. “We have seen impressive results in our pilot industrial scale projects, especially in terms of increased programming and reduced intermittency.”

Greener Power

Finland’s Fortum Oyj is similarly testing batteries for its gigawatt-sized plan for solar and wind projects, according to Chief Financial Officer Markus Rauramo.

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Currently, electronics makers in Asia control the battery business. South Korea’s LG Ltd. and Samsung SDI Co. are among the top vendors, according to BNEF. Asia is expected to maintain its lead with an additional eight factories being constructed in China alone.

Automakers are moving quickly to secure battery capacity. Daimler’s factory would be the biggest yet in Europe, responding to Tesla’s $5 billion Gigafactory venture with Panasonic Corp. At Daimler, batteries will feed both its cars and a venture Mercedes-Benz entered with rooftop-solar installer Vivint Solar Inc. to produce home energy storage systems.

“Looking a few years out, as we have a stronger penetration of EVs in the market, you’ll have more demand on the grid, which may need to be supported by storage,” said Boris von Bormann, chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas.

Tesla’s plant was about a third complete in January and will give it access to 35 gigawatts a year of capacity when finished, enough for its planned production rate of 500,000 cars a year. This would place the carmaker based in Palo Alto, California, as the No. 2 supplier behind LG Chem Ltd. Tesla is also planning to build additional gigafactories.

“Later this year, we expect to finalize locations for Gigafactories 3, 4 and possibly 5 (Gigafactory 2 is the Tesla solar plant in New York),” the company wrote in its fourth quarter letter to shareholders.

The scale of Daimler’s investment is smaller, and the company hasn’t disclosed its capacity goal. Volkswagen is in talks with battery makers over possible ventures and plans a prototype assembly plant in Germany to develop its own expertise. A Stockholm-based startup run by a former Tesla executive, NorthVolt AB, has also announced plans for a 4 billion-euro battery factory in Sweden by 2023.

Higher production of lithium-ion units for cars will help slash costs of batteries for all applications, making storage more affordable in homes and on the grid.

The result may make electric cars competitive with ones fueled by gasoline or diesel sometime in the next decade. The battery pack is the most expensive part of a plug-in, making up about a third of the total cost. Lithium-ion packs are projected to be 43 percent cheaper by 2021, dropping to $156 a kilowatt-hour from $273 today.

To be sure, the wider use of lithium-ion batteries is still in its early days and there are potentially competing technologies. It remains an open question whether storage can ever be profitable for consumers or utilities at a big scale.

“You still need a crystal ball to operate a system on batteries,” said Bridgit Hartland-Johnson, head of energy storage at Siemens Energy Management U.K., a maker of wind turbines and power systems. “There are still some unanswered questions.”

Even so, the battery factories are being built by automakers looking toward an electric future. Plug-ins could make up a fifth of new auto sales, or 21 million units, by 2030, according to BNEF. Merkel’s visit to the Daimler plant underscores her government’s target to have 6 million electric cars on the road by 2030.

29 Comments on "Move Over Tesla, Europe’s Building Its Own Battery Gigafactories"

  1. Davy on Mon, 29th May 2017 1:24 pm 

    What we are likely going to see is overcapacity from a blind push into new technology yet to be cost effectively produced and integrated into the modern economy. Renewables, batteries, and EV’s are extenders of modernism. In this respect they are important but if we produce and intergrate these technologies wrong we are facing serious issues becuase we have few if any alternatives to fossil fuels and decline. We better get this right becuase the days of second chances are nearing an end.

  2. Kenz300 on Mon, 29th May 2017 1:34 pm 

    The future is electric.

    Clean energy production with solar panels / tiles and battery storage.

    Clean energy consumption with electric vehicles. No emissions.

    A new solar roof, battery storage, an electric car charger and an electric vehicle.

    Solar panels are now being projected to have a much longer life and lower cost than just a few years ago.

    Battery storage makes wind and solar an even better option.

  3. twocats on Mon, 29th May 2017 2:43 pm 

    all good developments. and if humanity were serious about solving these issues I would be less worried. it’s mostly about India and China and whether they can manage a leap-frog over oil to solar/wind/battery.

  4. sunweb on Mon, 29th May 2017 3:37 pm 

    The rush to a one time shot to try an maintain the statue quo/business as usual commercialism is typical of human responses.
    There is a hope/belief among many “renewable” energy promoters that these technologies can reproduce themselves along with many of the needs of our present living standard. I have been down these paths with people who want to believe we can and should continue business as usual.

    They avoid hard questions and they answer with vague engineering possibilities or tomorrow’s technology or human brilliance or innovation or you can’t know the future replies. Looking at the whole picture is out of the question because it challenges their solution.

    This essay challenges that hope which is really a continuation of consumerism and the status quo.

    This essay looks at the energy used in copper, glass and other common tools of everyday life. There are also videos of other necessay parts of our life styles – WINDOW SCREEN – A SYRINGE – MEDICAL PLASTIC TUBING – A CPU FOR YOUR COMPUTER – AN ELECTRIC MOTOR – A FAN (GLOBAL WARMING) – FARM MACHINERY.

  5. Cloggie on Mon, 29th May 2017 3:42 pm 

    sunweb, there is no alternative for a renewable future. We will see how far we will get.

  6. sunweb on Mon, 29th May 2017 5:27 pm 

    Cloggie -that is an attitude I can support somewhat. I am concerned about not including a caveat of reduction of consumption. That however would challenge everything.
    I am not saying don’t do solar or wind energy collecting devices, I had them since 1981. What I am cautioning is not being honest about the constraints. I am also concerned about the trauma from creating a false hope.

  7. Apneaman on Mon, 29th May 2017 6:35 pm 

    U.S. Daily Record Highs Outnumber Lows 5 to 1 since 2010

  8. Apneaman on Mon, 29th May 2017 6:37 pm 

    Russian scientists find 7,000 Siberian hills possibly filled with explosive gas

    “Russian scientists recently discovered 7,000 earthen knobs erupting from the Siberian Arctic, each the size of a small hill. It was as though the permafrost had broken out into giant grass-covered mounds. What’s more, an unknown number of these bubbles could contain methane and explode, forming craters, the Siberian Times reported.

    Using a combination of satellite images and field study, the researchers tallied the bumps. They found far more than previously counted. “At first such a bump is a bubble, or ‘bulgunyakh’ in the local Yakut language. With time the bubble explodes, releasing gas,” Alexey Titovsky, director of the Yamal Department for Science and Innovation, told the Siberian Times. “This is how gigantic funnels form.”

  9. Apneaman on Mon, 29th May 2017 6:39 pm 

    Kettle (landform)

    “A kettle (kettle hole, pothole) is a shallow, sediment-filled body of water formed by retreating glaciers or draining floodwaters.”

  10. Apneaman on Mon, 29th May 2017 8:03 pm 

    Maybe the super smart hi tech Indians will come up with a new gizmo and give the hopey ones an alt boner.

    Bangalore water woes: India’s Silicon Valley dries up

    Bangalore is known as India’s Silicon Valley. But the metropolis, renowned for its IT parks and gleaming skyscrapers, is running out of water fast. – Video

    Completely ridiculous. The Cancer will go on in this retarded manner until it can’t. More. That is the only reason the humans exist. More.

  11. Apneaman on Mon, 29th May 2017 9:57 pm 

    Do the batteries float?

    Flood fatigue sets in as Okanagan lakes and rivers continue to rise
    Emergency officials say water levels could keep on rising until July

    “Water in lakes and rivers throughout B.C.’s central Okanagan continue to rise past historic levels”

  12. Apneaman on Mon, 29th May 2017 9:59 pm 

    France feels the heat under ‘hottest Ascension weekend since 1900’… and there’s more to come

    “Much of France baked under record seasonal temperatures…”

  13. Apneaman on Mon, 29th May 2017 10:01 pm 

    Flooding in Brazil leaves tens of thousands homeless, at least seven dead

    “About 35,000 have lost their homes in the state of Pernambuco after nearly 12 inches of rain fell over the weekend…”

    The death by a thousand AGW cuts is speeding up.

  14. Hubert on Mon, 29th May 2017 11:01 pm 

    We have seen a major breakthrough in glass battery tech:

  15. GregT on Tue, 30th May 2017 12:33 am 

    “opening the way for a quicker shift toward green power for both cars and utilities.”

    Green power = oxymoron.

    More Bloomborg BS.

    Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.

  16. Apneaman on Tue, 30th May 2017 1:38 am 

    Another deadly AGW jacked Rain Bomb

    Heavy rains cause deadly flooding in southern Germany

    Three people have been killed as violent weather struck the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg. Heavy rain caused an underground car park to collapse.

    Four dead – including schoolgirl – after floods hit southern Germany

  17. Cloggie on Tue, 30th May 2017 2:57 am 

    UBS predicts that as of next year, operational costs of company lease E-cars will be cheaper than petrol cars. UBS says that these E-vehicles will rapidly penetrate the lease market. UBS predicts 14.2 million E-vehicles sold worldwide by 2025.

    Volvo announced it will stop developing new diesel motors and fully concentrate of electric motors. Volvo is in Chinese hands.

  18. Cloggie on Tue, 30th May 2017 3:31 am 

    Wonderful, all these battery giga-factories. But you need non-fossil electricity to charge them with:

    The Seven Brothers – Europe Taking Lead in US Offshore Wind

  19. Davy on Tue, 30th May 2017 6:05 am 

    “UBS predicts that as of next year, operational costs of company lease E-cars will be cheaper than petrol cars. UBS says that these E-vehicles will rapidly penetrate the lease market. UBS predicts 14.2 million E-vehicles sold worldwide by 2025.”

    I would enjoy seeing those numbers and the assumptions. It might help to look honestly at total cost which involves life cycle costs and embedded costs not accounted for. I really hope we can go alternative with EV’s. I don’t look forward to pain, suffering, and death. This is likely what is ahead for all of us if we look at science honestly. The question is when and how not if in my opinion. I have no problem with Alt, EV’s, and batteries. It is possible these new techs can extend our time in comfort and affluence. This extension means more extinction and destruction so it is not a real solution.

    What I dislike is the hype, agendas, and the false narratives of change. These technologies have market makers seeking profit. We have groups and governments seeking solutions to problems that are likely predicaments. Instead of adapting to predicaments they are attempting to pretend the problems will be solved by this technology. This is more of the same of extend and pretend of modernism with the techno drive to more affluence and comfort. It is easy to sell affluence and comfort. Few reject this social force even if it is a lie.

    This technology is important but it is just as important with how we apply it. The other side of the transformation coin is behavior and lifestyle changes that must be made or these new tech benefits will be squandered. Our civilization is handicapped by abundant tech and energy and a dearth of wisdom on its application. We apply technology because of wants and profit. Price dictates through performance, efficiency, and now carbon status. What is needed in this equation is wisdom related to resilience and sustainability. There was a time when these two attributes could be disregarded but no longer. We still are in denial we have an existential trap that is likely a catch 22 predicament so efficiency is the name of the game not resilience and sustainability.

    I have said this numerous times that modern human nature cannot be changed. It is so massive and self-organizing it will continue to self-adapt towards techno development in a manifest destiny of exceptionalism. We will follow the leaders of this movement and not listen to those who say “less” and “no”. Current leadership is all about yes and more. Leaders today are conditioned to this because honest leaders are not elected. Investments are not made in activities that are degrowth based. This condition is cooperative and competitive so it supports this developmental drive and if you do not play you lose and are quickly absorbed by a stronger rival. Our system survives on development and will collapse with significant degrowth polices.

    In this case we can only hope for a trickledown effect from this technology into beneficial niches at locals and with groups who will put it to good use. We can also hope this flawed system can continue on longer so we may find solutions and consensus on the dangerous unfolding scenarios ahead for decline, decay, and dysfunction of a system that is significantly overextended from resilience and sustainability.

    This then becomes the case of enabling a system that is killing us in hope we find some real solutions. We can end this quickly or we can allow the dysfunction to continue in hope real solutions will occur. This is the kind of situation has no clear answers. Do we end the destructive activity and embrace collapse in hopes of renewal or do we extend and pretend an existential insanity in hopes that sooner or later sanity will return. Time is the limiting factor with our condition. Nature will correct it eventually. Society has no choice but you the individual do.

  20. Cloggie on Tue, 30th May 2017 6:11 am 

    Electric flying is coming:

    By 2020 Siemens and Airbus will introduce a 100 seater plane with a range of 1,000 km and hybrid propulsion: fuel for take-off and electrickery for cruising.

    P.S. not very high on “my agenda”, but then nobody gives a f* about “my agenda”.lol

  21. Davy on Tue, 30th May 2017 7:01 am 

    “By 2020 Siemens and Airbus will introduce a 100 seater plane with a range of 1,000 km and hybrid propulsion: fuel for take-off and electrickery for cruising.”

    What? In three years? And you even entertain the belief in that?

  22. dave thompson on Tue, 30th May 2017 7:59 am 

    Driving EV cars will not keep industrial civ going. Only the power or FF industry can provide EV transport. SUNWEB hits the nail on the head.

  23. Cloggie on Tue, 30th May 2017 8:24 am 

    What? In three years? And you even entertain the belief in that?

    My mistake. By 2020 they want to prove the viability of hybrid-electric propulsion systems

    By 2020 we want to develop hybrid-electric propulsion systems for airplanes and test them on the ground. This will take place for propulsion systems in different power classes, ranging from several hundred kilowatts for small airplanes to several megawatts for regional aircraft… We expect that electrical and hybrid-electrical propulsion systems will become established in small airplanes in the next five years. In the long term they will also become the standard in regional flights involving routes of up to 1,000 nautical miles…
    Hybrid-electric propulsion systems reduce fuel and emissions by as much as 50 percent and, as a result, significantly decrease a plane’s overall operating costs.

  24. Davy on Tue, 30th May 2017 11:41 am 

    Great idea clog but I imagine these planes will be too expensive for mass travel. It will likely be a vehicle for the military and the elite once decline sets in and fuel is rationed. That is if they can even master the engineering demands of hybrid-electric propulsion for flight.

  25. Hubert on Tue, 30th May 2017 4:45 pm 

    @Davy, We cannot control how nature/humans behaves.

    Emergent Theory:

  26. Anonymouse on Tue, 30th May 2017 6:42 pm 

    Batteries are useful yes, and necessary for various applications. Yet, it seems a great many ‘sci-tech’ writers dont seem to know the difference between devices that simply store energy, produced elsewhere, by other means, and the ones that actually produce that energy. You know the part of the equation that really matters.

    This guy, gushes over lion batteries, yet neglects to mention, the billions that have been discarded, or shipped to turd-world countries out-of-sight, out-of-mind, or that they have a tendency to catch fire from time to time etc. Then goes on to conflate things further by tieing batteries to wind and solar.

    Batteries are a lof of things, but ‘green’ really isn’t near the top of the list.

  27. Bruce on Tue, 30th May 2017 8:29 pm 

    We should be careful with these supposed gigafactories.

    I scanned several stories on the factory, including Daimler’s own release. It looks to be an expansion of an existing facility and no mention of cell production or a chemistry partner, making me think that it only does packaging.

    If so, they will bottleneck at the same time as the others. Tesla, on the other hand only needs raw materials.

  28. Cloggie on Wed, 31st May 2017 1:24 am 

    It is indeed an (4-fold) expansion of an existing plant, but further innovation is very much part of it.

    They also want to expand into utility vehicles like vans, but also produce 7.5 ton trucks with a range of 100 km for inner city delivery.

  29. Cloggie on Wed, 31st May 2017 1:31 am 

    Both Trump and Merkel are rowing back and stress importance trans-Atlantic relationship and the need to solve problems:

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