Panasonic has signed a strategic deal to explore setting up a battery Gigafactory in Europe. The company is the only major battery maker not to have such a factory in the region and is looking at developing one powered by hydroelectric power.
The EU is aiming to be independent in battery production by 2025, although this relies on Chinese manufacturers for much of the capacity.
"I am confident that by 2025, the EU will be able to produce enough battery cells to meet the needs of the European automotive industry, and even to build our export capacity," said Maros Sefcovic, European Commission Vice President at the European Conference on Batteries this week.
There are 15 gigafactories under construction in the region, ranging from the homegrown NorthVolt and Saft to LG Chem from Taiwan, SK Innovation from South Korea and CATL and BYD from China. Several organisations, including startup BritishVolt, are looking for public and private financing for a battery plant in the UK.
Panasonic’s deal with energy company Equinor and industrial group Hydro is looking at how to set up a sustainable and cost-competitive European battery business. The result of the evaluation of the demand from customers for a sustainable plant in Norway is expected by the middle of 2021.
“This collaboration combines Panasonic’s position as an innovative technology company and leader in lithium-ion batteries, with the deep industrial experience of Equinor and Hydro, both strong global players, to potentially pave the way for a robust and sustainable battery business in Norway,” said Mototsugu Sato, Executive Vice President of Panasonic. “Panasonic has powered the last two revolutions in the automotive industry – first by powering hybrids and now, by powering multiple generations of all electric vehicles. We are pleased to enter into this initiative to explore implementing sustainable, highly advanced technology and supply chains to deliver on the exacting needs of lithium-ion battery customers