First European battery cell production awaits EU approval

Image: Daniel Bönnighausen

The German Ministry of Economics has submitted the documents of the first major European project for battery cell production to the European Commission and hopes to receive the Commission’s approval under state aid law this fall.

German companies and companies from six other European member states are taking part in the project. The Ministry does not mention names in its communication, but it is likely it handed in the Franco-German proposal that includes PSA and Saft.

Germany’s minister for economics, Peter Altmaier, hopes to receive the approval already this autumn. He added that “today it is clear what was not certain a year ago: Germany and Europe will themselves develop and manufacture competitive, innovative and environmentally friendly battery cells”.

The timeline fits with the initial proposal based on a consortium including PSA through its German subsidiary Opel and French battery manufacturer Saft. The consortium wants to lay the foundation stone for a first pilot plant in the French Nouvelle-Aquitain region before the year’s end and build two factories for the series production of battery cells in the first half of the coming decade – the first of these from 2022 in France and the second from 2024 in Germany. There is still no official information on the exact locations of the cell factories.

Besides, the latest communication regarding the EU’s approval mentions another major battery cell production project. They are to be implemented as so-called “Important Projects of Common European Interest” (IPCEI) through the EU Commission and other EU member states. “German companies play a leading role in both projects,” says the ministry.

Germany invited funding proposals in February this year and as we reported in March, six consortia submitted applications. These include prominent names such as BASF, VW, PSA, BMW and Northvolt. It is currently unknown whether Volkswagen will still apply for such funding for its battery cell project with the Swedish company Northvolt. The two companies have since moved ahead anyway. They launched a first pilot production for battery cells at Volkswagen’s Salzgitter plant. Production is to scale up to 16 GWh at the end of 2023 and Volkswagen is investing around one billion euros. (in German)


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