EU approves nearly €660 mn in state aid for French battery firm Verkor
The French battery manufacturer reportedly expected more than two billion euros in capital in September. At the time, Verkor already counted on €650 million in grants from the French government under the France 2030 plan, but EU state aid approval was pending – until today.
Verkor’s research and development project, now approved, has several objectives: Automating electrode production and battery design by digitising processes, improving recycling techniques, recovering battery materials, and developing a pilot production line to pave the way for large-scale battery production.
In its statement, the EU Commission found the measure of the French government “necessary and appropriate” to support the R&D activities, which it also considers relevant to economic development across the EU. In addition, it is “proportionate, as the level of the aid corresponds to the effective financing needs,” writes the EC. Moreover, the aid has an “incentive effect’, as Verkor would only carry out the R&D activities for lithium-ion batteries with public support.
The Commission also stressed Verkor’s commitment to “actively sharing” the technical know-how gained through the project with industry and academia.
“This €659 million measure enables France to support Verkor’s research and development project on innovative production processes of lithium-ion batteries while keeping distortions of competition limited,” said Commissioner Didier Reynders, in charge of competition policy.
Regarding commercial investors, the €850 mn funding round completed in September was led by Macquarie Asset Management. Verkors industrial and financial partners such as Renault Group, EQT Ventures, EIT InnoEnergy and Sibanye-Stillwater also participate.
Verkor is currently building its battery cell factory in the region of Hauts-de-France and the city of Dunkirk; both contributed to the subsidies with 60 and 30 million euros, respectively. In addition, the European Investment Bank is supporting Verkor with a loan package of 600 million euros.
The plant shall take up work at 16 GWh capacity in 2025. Shortly after commissioning, construction work continues: the plant is to be expanded to 50 GWh by 2030. The new research and development units, as well as pilot production, are located in Grenoble.