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Verkor, a French industrial company, is set to amplify battery cell production in Europe, with the support of EIT InnoEnergy, Schneider Electric and the GROUPE IDEC. The new venture will accelerate the production capacity of low-carbon batteries in southern Europe to meet growing demand for electric vehicles and stationary storage.
Production in Verkor’s first Gigafactory is scheduled to begin in 2023, with a capacity of 16 GWh of battery cells which will increase to 50 GWh in line with market dynamics. The facility will require an initial investment of €1.6bn and will create more than 2,000 direct jobs while supporting thousands more in its supply chain and ecosystem. The search for 200+ hectares of land is already underway.
Verkor was founded in response to the growing gap between the expected demand for batteries and the committed and planned European supply. Indeed, the expected growth in demand this decade will require two to three Gigafactories in France alone. The European industrial ecosystem is therefore compelled to establish a sustainable and indigenous European battery supply chain, which in turn will reduce reliance on imports.France’s affordable and low-carbon electricity, prominent automotive manufacturers, leading energy providers, and its demonstrated industrial prowess make it the ideal location for Gigafactories in southern Europe, a region which falls short of such projects when compared to northern and central Europe.
Benoit Lemaignan, the CEO of Verkor, is passionate: “Our team is made up of industrial entrepreneurs who have accumulated vast experience in the field, especially in battery-cell manufacturing. We are multinational and growing fast with the addition of new talent from all over the world. We are working in an agile, fast-follower mode to bring locally manufactured, low-CO2 battery cells to the market.
“Combined with the expertise of our strategic partners, I am confident that we are aligning the winning conditions to start the construction of a highly efficient manufacturing Gigafactory in 2022, deliver our first cells in 2023, and stepping up of industrial activities, key to accelerating low carbon mobility in Europe.”
Diego Pavia, CEO of EIT InnoEnergy, said: “The first Verkor Gigafactory will help bridge the gap between Europe’s planned demand and currently forecasted European supply in this decade. Verkor’s unique value proposition on manufacturing optimisation and excellence is welcome. The strategic partnerships they are building make us confident that Verkor will deliver. Coupled with the Covid recovery, the initiative will further accelerate the French and European battery value chain, from mining to recycling, and boost the growth of hundreds of businesses across France and Europe.
“Anchored in our work with the European Battery Alliance, we are on a mission to achieve a sustainable battery value chain in Europe. By locating the site in France, we can produce batteries with a carbon footprint nearly four times lower than that of China. France also boasts a highly-skilled workforce and industry players across the entire value chain.”
The French Ministry of industry has expressed strong support for the project, which is in line with the government’s plan towards a greener and more resilient automotive value chain.
Schneider Electric, the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, brings its industrial expertise and strong links into the existing battery supply chain in Europe. It will help Verkor build and execute optimised and sustainable operations that leverage IOT & Industry 4.0. “We are excited to support Verkor’s creation and share our technical and manufacturing expertise. This brings together the best of energy management and industrial expertise to build green, competitive batteries as part of our commitment to help the European transition to electric vehicles,” said Christel Galbrun-Noel, Mobility Segment President at Schneider Electric.
The GROUPE IDEC, and its associated partner ER2I, are now working with the project stakeholders to drive all aspects related to finding land and designing and constructing the new high value-added industrial site. The Group will draw on the knowledge of its subsidiaries in cross-functional business lines to formulate a response to meet the challenges of this Gigafactory. “The IDEC GROUP is proud to be part of this innovative and sustainable industrial project from its inception, alongside its complementary partners”, explains Patrice Lafargue, President and Founder of the GROUPE IDEC.