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Battery Wars – China Beating Tesla In The Gigafactory Race

Gigafactory

Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 has been a center of attention for people interested in the growing momentum behind green energy, electric cars, and battery production. Therefore, it is no surprise that this facility was in the news again last month, with Tesla starting to mass produce batteries as it ramps up to its goal of 35GWh of capacity and beyond.

However, as exciting as this project is, it’s actually just one of multiple large-scale “megafactories” being built – with many of them being in China.

China leading the charge

We talked to Simon Moores, Managing Director at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, who explained that Tesla isn’t alone or unique in its ambitions to build lithium-ion batteries at scale:

While the Tesla Gigafactory is vitally important from an EV vertical integration perspective, the majority of new lithium-ion battery capacity is being built in China. Some of these plants are expected to be huge such as the CATL facility at 50GWh – there is little doubt that China’s lithium-ion industry has come of age.

Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) has plans to build the largest lithium-ion megafactory of all – but the company is little known in North America. It’s already worth $11.5 billion, and could be a dominant force globally in the battery sector if it successfully increases its lithium-ion production capacity six-fold to 50GWh by the year 2020. Related: Biggest Gasoline Glut In 27 Years Could Crash Oil Markets

Other Chinese manufacturers are on a similar trajectory. Panasonic, LG Chem, and Boston Power are building new megafactory plants in China, while companies such as Samsung and BYD are expanding existing ones. All lithium-ion plants in China currently have a capacity of 16.4GWh – but by 2020, they will combine for a total of 107.5GWh.

Capacity by country

This ramp up in China means that the country will have 62% of the world’s lithium-ion battery production capacity by 2020.

There are only three other players in the megafactory game: United States, South Korea, and Poland.

Above estimates on battery capacity courtesy of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Related: Can Canada’s ‘Gas City' Replicate Qatar’s Success?

(Click to enlarge)

By Jeff Desjardins via Mining.com

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Leave a comment
  • JHM on February 22 2017 said:
    Tesla intends Gigafactory 1 in Nevada to have 100 GWh or more pack level output by 2020. It also makes inverters, motors and other drive train components. Gigafactory 2 in New York will make solar panels and solar roofs.

    Tesla will announce plans for Gigafactories 3, 4 and possibly 5 later this year. These will likely be battery factories, but could also produce autos. They will likely not be in the US.
  • Lee James on February 22 2017 said:
    The U.S. is slowly transitioning to renewable energy and jobs that have a future. China is leapfrogging, as usual. The question is whether Mr. Trump will stick to his assessment that China invented climate change and China wants the U.S. to do the responding.

    Thank you for this article bringing us up to date on where one of the key energy technologies stands today. I hope Mr. Trump takes note.
  • Philip Branton on February 23 2017 said:
    Too bad the Federal Thrift Saving plan has not transferred 50%of its funds into this sector..... May be grounds for class action
  • GREG FOREMAN on March 08 2017 said:
    With such an increase in battery production over a short period of time, one has to question the effect such growth will have on the lithium and cobalt market from both a resources and pricing standpoint and to what extent such increased demand will encourage adoption of alternative battery architecture.
  • Michael Anthony Green on March 09 2017 said:
    i only have one thing to say i would not have china lithium battery in a car or in my house
    and i think a lot of people feel the same china product are cheap and dangerous Tesla is the way to go LG is also a good battery maker but Samsung as lost a lot of respect with its 7 phone which
    i think were made in china, over the years china as got a bad reputation, even in it own country, the problem is china is it own worst enemy and we all now about cheap copy so if china become 62% supplier god help us all

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