Galp and Northvolt selected the port city of Setúbal, Portugal (southeast of Lisbon on the northern bank of the Sado River estuary) as the location for their Aurora lithium conversion plant (earlier post), which aims to become a steppingstone for the development of an integrated lithium-battery value-chain in Europe.
The plant, which will be one of Europe’s largest, is set to have an initial annual production capacity between 28,000 and 35,000 tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide, which is expected to grow significantly by 2030. The plant will use a proven conversion process, leveraging recent process improvements and technologies to increase its sustainability and efficiency.
Additionally, the JV is seeking to enable the use of green energy to power the conversion process, thereby minimizing reliance on the conventional natural-gas-powered approach.
The plant is expected to represent an investment close to €700 million, and to create more than 200 qualified direct jobs and more than 3,000 indirect jobs in the region.
A final investment decision is yet to occur, but the JV is envisaging a start of operations by the end of 2025 and start of commercial operations in 2026.
Setúbal was picked from several possible locations because it fulfilled all the requirements set forth by Aurora, the 50%-50% joint venture between Galp and Northvolt that will be leading the project going forward.
The site, located in the Sapec Bay Industrial Park, has good access to infrastructure, railway, and port facilities. The site is also ideally placed to source reagents, and is close to by-product users, namely cement and pulp & paper industries, but also close to Portugal’s current car manufacturing center.
The plant will be able to deliver lithium hydroxide sufficient for 50 GWh of battery production per year (sufficient for more than 700,000 electric vehicles). As part of the JV agreement, Northvolt will secure an offtake for up to 50% of the plant’s capacity for use in its battery manufacturing.