Europe has become the fastest growing region for new electric vehicle (EV) lithium-ion battery capacity outside of China, according to Benchmark Minerals. Just three and a half years ago, Benchmark’s lithium-ion Battery Gigafactory Assessment (September 2018) reported Europe’s battery cell capacity to be at 120GWh by 2030—enough cells for 2.2 million EVs.
Now this planned annual capacity figure stands at 789.2 GWh in 2030—more than a 6-fold increase and enough to produce almost 15 million pure EVs. However, Benchmark notes, the question remains how much of this capacity will actually come onstream and in what quality? (Benchmark will explore this topic at its upcoming Battery Megafactories Europe 2022, 22-23 March, Berlin, Germany.)
By end-2022, Europe is set to have 7 active lithium-ion battery producers of which the top five by capacity (and gigafactory location) are:
- LG Chem (Poland): 32 GWh
- Samsung SDI (Hungary): 20 GWh
- Northvolt (Sweden): 16 GWh
- SK Innovation (Hungary): 7.5 GWh
- Envision AESC (UK): 1.9GWh
In terms of quality, Europe has four of the world’s seven tier one lithium-ion battery makers; once Northvolt’s gigafactory in Sweden is active, Benchmark anticipates this will also become a tier one producer.
Benchmark’s Tier One producers of automotive-grade lithium-ion battery cells—as of its February 2022 assessment—are: Panasonic (Japan); Samsung SDI and SK Innovation (South Korea); Envision AESC, CATL, and BYD (China).
By 2030, this top five landscape will be reshaped as Benchmark’s Gigafactory Assessment (February 2022) shows Europe to be on track for 27 gigafactories from 18 battery cell producers.
A more recent trend with Europe’s lithium-ion battery build out is the emergence of auto majors as pseudo-battery producers seeking to secure cell supply through joint-venture plants. In 2030, of the 17 gigafactories with a minimum annual capacity of 1 GWh in Europe, 8 of these plants are through automotive partnerships such as VW Group, Stellantis, Nissan, Volvo and Renault.
Of most significance is Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory which is expected to officially commission commercial cell production in 2023 but reach a capacity of 75 GWh by 2026 and be operating at 125 GWh by 2030. Giga-Berlin is on course to be Europe’s largest gigafactory by some way and the world’s second-largest lithium-ion battery plant behind its counterpart in Austin,Texas.
An expanded Northvolt is forecasted to be the region’s second second-largest producer with 92 GWh of capacity through plans in Skellefteå, Sweden and a new joint-operation with Volvo, in Gothenburg, Sweden. CATL, Erfurt will be the third-largest battery producer in Europe with 80 GWh by 2030.
LG Energy Solutions is expected to be fourth with 67 GWh from Poland with no new gigafactory locations yet announced from the traditionally more conservative South Korean producer.
Meanwhile, ACC (Total/Stellantis) is expected to be operating three plants in France, Germany and Italy with a combined capacity of 64 GWh by 2030 with Verkor’s new Dunkirk-based Gigafactory to be at 50 GWh as the sixth largest producer.
By 2030, Benchmark anticipates Europe’s top five battery makers by capacity to be:
- Tesla (Germany): 125GWh
- Northvolt (Sweden x 2): 92 GW
- CATL (Germany): 80 GWh
- LGES(Poland): 67 GWh
- ACC (Total/Stellantis) (Germany, France, Italy): 64 GWh
Overall, Benchmark is forecasting Europe to have a capacity of 789.2GWh by 2030, a little over 14% of the global total of 5,454GWh.
This is a more than 6-fold increase on what is expected for 2022. For comparison, China is growing by 220% in the same period, while the US is forecast to grow its battery capacity by 575%.
Benchmark cautions that capacity does not necessarily equal reliable supply for the EV industry. There are a number of bottlenecks in building and operating these super-sized battery plants that can take five-years to build and fully ramp up.