Varta has now received funding positive decisions from the Germany federal government and the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg concerning 300 million euros for projects involving battery cells. The subsidy was approved by the EU Commission in December 2019 and the decisions have now been sent to Varta.
Varta is part of the first IPCEI (Important Projects of Common European Interest) for the promotion of research and innovation in the field of battery cells, which was approved by the European Commission under state aid law. Varta can call on the funds until the end of 2024.
Varta will use the funds to work on two projects. In addition to the development of the latest generation of small-format lithium-ion cells with higher energy densities, the company will focus on transferring its technology to larger cell formats, for example for electric cars. The larger cells should also be suitable for use in stationary battery storage systems or robots.
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The new battery formats will be optimised on a pilot line and transferred to mass production. The Varta Group wants to create about 1,000 new jobs in Ellwangen in Baden Wurttemberg and the Bavarian district of Nördlingen by the end of next year. For Varta, this is an enormous growth: the company currently has about 4,000 employees.
The European heads of government have been trying to establish a battery cell production in Germany for years in order to reduce the dependence on Asian companies. In the case of Varta, the hope is that the world market leader for small batteries in hearing aids or wireless headphones will also be able to build high-performance batteries for much larger devices in the future. At the first IPCEI in Germany, in addition to subsidies for Varta, subsidies were approved for BMW, BASF and Umicore – and for Opel, which wants to set up cell production in Kaiserslautern, Germany, as part of the battery consortium with Saft.
“With the IPCEI, we will further expand VARTA’s lithium-ion technology, accelerate the development of the latest generations, and bring new products to market,” says Varta CEO Herbert Schein. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier added: “The establishment of innovative and sustainable battery cell production in Germany is a high priority for us. It is necessary to remain competitive, create new jobs and secure prosperity in line with the transformation of energy and transport”.