Published on February 16th, 2016 | by Kyle Field


LG Chem Battery Plant Production Takes Off In China

February 16th, 2016 by  

The big news in storage for the last year and a half has been the Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory that is being built just outside of Reno, Nevada, but the incumbents in the battery game haven’t been sitting still. We reported in October that LG Chem had ramped up production in its factory in Holland, Michigan, to support the increased demand forecast for the new and improved 2016 Chevy Volt (plug-in hybrid) as well as the similarly named Chevy Bolt (fully electric car).

The Holland plant continues to ramp up production with a job fair last month looking to fill another 100 positions in the facility with several roles still available.

Paired up with the news of the production increase, LG Chem was also looking to tap its existing presence in Wroclaw, Poland, where CleanTechnica director and editor Zachary Shahan lives, to build up battery production capacity in Europe. Further stretching towards a globally distributed production presence, recent news indicates that LG Chem is also being tapped for EV batteries in China, as it recently announced an increase in production at its facility in Nanjing, China.


LG Leadership commemorating the opening of the Nanjing, China, factory | Image Credit: LG Chem

What is more impressive than the global presence is the timing on which it has been executed with the more recent increase being executed in under 2 years with construction having just started on October 30th, 2014. The new battery factory is producing batteries specifically for EVs with agreements in place with SAIC Motor Corp, Qoros, and 14 other automakers looking to get a piece of the lucrative Chinese market (per The Korea Times).

The newly opened LG Chem factory in Nanjing can currently produce enough batteries for 50,000 battery-electric cars per year, with plans to increase production to support 200,000 such cars per year by 2020. Alternately, the factory can currently produce enough batteries for 180,000 plugin-hybrid electric cars today, which seems more likely given a heavy bias in the Chinese electric vehicle market towards PHEVs.

Pulling these distributed factories together, the LG Chem battery R&D facility in Ochang, South Korea, leads the development of new chemistries and architectures, which can then be deployed to the regional battery production facilities and scaled up.

The future is looking bright for LG Chem, as it pushes to scale up for the impending EV revolution currently underway around the world. Most impressively, LG has been able to ramp up production very quickly; though, supporting 50,000 cars per year per factory is peanuts compared to the 500,000 per year or more BEVs that the Gigafactory will presumably be able to support… and note that is probably in reference to electric cars with larger batteries than the ones in the LG Chem projections.

On the plus side for LG, it should also be able to ramp up production quickly in the meantime to support sales of partner-EV-manufacturer vehicles. Having a distributed customer base will also bring more stability to the forecast for LG and allow the company to capitalize on the successes of individual auto manufacturers vs being tied to a single manufacturer like Panasonic (supplying Tesla) and AESC / Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (supplying Nissan).

In the video below, Bill Wallace, GM Director of Global Battery Systems, is out front of the Holland (Michigan) LG Chem battery factory and talks about the improvements in the battery in the second-generation Chevy Volt that were enabled largely by the partnership with LG. Sorry in advance for the awkward ending of the clip.

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I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor. Tesla referral link:

  • neroden

    “Cars per year” doesn’t mean anything. How many Megawatt-Hours of batteries are they producing?

  • Marion Meads

    More jobs for China, and more wealth accumulations for the 0.1%

    • JamesWimberley

      The post is a report on a Korean company building battery factories in China, the USA, Malaysia and Poland, in order to be close to its customers. Do you have a problem with that?

      I also fail to see any reasoning why progress in battery manufacturing contributes significantly to inequality. The economies of scale mean that the industry is oligopolistic, but there is no reported cartel to create superprofits. Contrast the huge profits made in finance.

    • Jamset

      You need to advocate for a universal income like Finland is doing.

      • Otis11

        Heck yes. Basic income is so much better than our current welfare state.

        Give everyone a safety net, get them help (with dignity) even if they’re too proud to ask… at a fraction of the current costs.

        I’m hopeful that the Swiss or someone will demonstrate it soon (possibly denmark?) so that we have hard data to point to instead of economic theory…

        /end rant.

        • Jamset

          Finland will be the first.

          • Otis11

            Here’s to hoping!

            (Though it has to be implemented correctly for the economics to actually pan out: partial implementations just extend the welfare state. None of this ‘negative tax rate’ stuff – just a citizen wide basic income.)

            Ok, enough being off topic…

    • OneHundredbyFifty

      Last time I checked the largest battery factory was under construction in the US. But yes, a valid concern, China has a way of sucking IP out of technology production that moves there.

      • JamesWimberley

        The USA did not recognize foreign patents at all before 1836 and only on a discriminatory basis until 1861 (link). Recognizing foreign IP is probably a bad idea in the early stages of industrial development. IP is not a natural right, except possibly the moral right to authorship.

        As China’s industry gets more sophisticated, IP protection will get stronger by self-interest. Many Chinese electronics firms license microprocessor designs from the dominant British company ARM, and pay up. The secret seems to be that the fees per processor copy are low, cents not dollars; and ARM licenses to all comers without discrimination. Piracy is both technically difficult, as you need huge amounts of technical information for design and fabrication, and not rewarding.

        • OneHundredbyFifty

          Not rewarding? The Chinese have ramped into a dominant position in solar and are rapidly moving into wind. Not to mention their rapid emergence into other industries. This while they pay their workers next to nothing, suck the mfg jobs out of the US and make it very hard to compete while maintaining reasonable environmental quality. Had we used our leverage we could have gone after any of their industries that did not rise to certain levels of reasonable environmental and labor practices. This would have allowed them into the game with far less pain to the US. It should be noted that one of the reasons we are not significantly growing our pollution is that we exported our mfg to the Chinese, in effect exporting our emissions.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Actually the days of paying labor “almost nothing” are past in China. China now has an enormous middle class and and aging work force.

            China is now beginning to export low labor industries and transitioning their economy to a more service based one.

            You’re going to have to find a new boogeyman….

    • Kraylin

      Thank you for the buzz kill. For the record if the poor and unemployed opened a battery factory and produced electric vehicles I would be happy to buy one.

      Ok sorry, my post is at least as useless as yours was….

    • Ronald Brakels

      Personally, I make all my lithium-ion cells in my bedroom.

      • JamesWimberley
        • Bob_Wallace

          People who have reached the age of weak bladders will see some value in this technology.

          • Ronald Brakels

            I’ll only consider it if it doesn’t reduce the amount of gunpower I am able to produce with each micturition. Which is a surpirsingly large amount.

          • ADW

            Did you ever read “Blood Meridian” , there is a great scene of making gunpowder….

          • Ronald Brakels

            Not Cormac “no quotation marks” McCarthy? (Technically that should be Cormac no quotation marks McCarthy.) No, I’m afraid I haven’t read anything by him. But now I want to. I’ll have to check out the local library for his work.

          • Coley

            Who knows what goes on in the Brakels bedroom?
            “Other bodily fluids, such as tears, blood, and semen, would work easily as well to activate the battery”

          • Ronald Brakels

            Those monkeys in my bedroom are only there because they are specially trained to roll lithium-ion membranes into cylinders, thank you very much! (I liberated them from a cigar manufacturer in Santiago de Cuba.) Also, their urine makes for great gunpowder.

        • Kyle Field

          Risky click of the day…

    • Riely Rumfort

      The main reason I don’t like production in China is their grid, which is about twice as carbon-intensive and 50% less energy efficient.
      The pollution cradle to grave with all the batteries is decided by this, there are much more effective electric grids globally for production.

    • nakedChimp

      less total job time for everyone, thanks to productivity increases. Do something more sensible with your time, than standing at a belt mounting pv inverters or other stuff! And yes, I know, the productivity gains aren’t distributed by a free market and a level playing field….
      Which brings us to your 2nd point.. blame the monetary system and the inherent monopolies in it and our society for the accumulation of wealth by a handful of naked chimps.

  • MtnMark

    “Entering 2016 GM said its cells cost $145 per kilowatt-hour, and by late 2021, they could be at the $100 mark.”
    I think it will hit the $100 mark much sooner. Everyone is ramping-up production.

    • vensonata

      Keep repeating that number…$100 kwh. It needs to be a mantra. In fact it needs to be subsidized into self fulfilling prophecy within a year. It goes well with PV installed for $1.50 watt…coming soon.

      • Mike Dill

        Vensonata: What are your storage cost numbers ($/kwh used) for a $100/kWh 5000 cycle battery?

        • vensonata

          Well without making it too complex: That is 2 cents kwh. There are a few shilly shallies about how we get an actual full 5000 cycles out of the battery but it can be done. But at that price lets imagine we get “only” 4000 full cycles, it is still storage at 2.5 cents kwh!!! That is added on to the price per kwh of your pv or grid. If we get PV installed at $1.50 watt ‘as it is already in Australia’ (see newnodm below) then that is about 7 cents kwh in Nevada sunshine, plus 2.5 cents added to about 40% of your production (nighttime etc) Total average about 8.5 cents kwh vs grid at 13cents kwh. Now which do you want?

          • Bob_Wallace

            When rooftop drops to $1.50 utility will probably be well under $1. Seven cents per kWh vs. four cents? Utilities will almost certainly be able to purchase storage for under 2.5 cents per kWh it 2.5 is the retail cost.

            Solar + storage + cheaper wind will bring down utility costs. More expensive peaking sources will largely drop away.

            Expect future retail electricity prices to be less than 13 cents per kWh.

          • Otis11

            But… they also have ~1.5-2 c/kWh transmission (or so they claim). If that holds true, I see rooftop solar in our future… and wind to fill in the gaps.

            The problem with such cheap electricity is that it removes the incentive for efficiency… which we so badly need.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s say you use the US monthly average of 911 kWh. One cent per kWh works out to $9.11 per month. If the potential savings is less than $10/month I suspect few people are likely to bother putting out the effort needed to install solar and storage.

            If people could save $50 a month then I can see many putting out the effort. I don’t have an opinion on where the tripping point is between one and five. Five wouldn’t be enough for many. Look at how much some people spend on phones and bottled water

          • Otis11

            Valid point… as long as utility prices are reasonable many won’t leave.

            I simply run the numbers and calculate the value-of-money. If I can get 8% returns, I buy – even if it only saves a few buck/month. If it’s only 2% returns, that money should be put elsewhere, even if it ‘saves’ hundreds. That said, most people don’t…

          • vensonata

            It will be a nice competition between personal solar and storage and grid solar and storage. The utility though, has to make a profit, so by the time it gets to your house they may have to struggle to get under that 9cent mark.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Someone is going to make a profit. Either the utility buys solar and storage at ‘wholesale’ and puts their profit on top or the end-user buys solar and storage at retail, paying someone a profit as part of their cost.
            Utility doesn’t need to get as cheap or cheaper than producing behind the meter. It just needs to get cheap enough to minimize the potential gain from setting up rooftop solar and storage.

          • Peter Voight

            In your example, storage costs 2.5c/KWh or AUD 3.5c/kWh.
            In Australia, an installed 5kWp system costs between AUD5,500 and 7,500, after rebates. (Panel prices vary at least 2:1) Call it $6,500. Add a 6kWh battery.

            $100.kWh = AUD 140/kWh.
            6kwh storage = $840
            Solar = $6,500
            Total = $7,340

            Assuming 4000 cycles, that’s $1.83/day or $0.30/kWh.
            Without the battery, cost is $0.101/kwh. (Storage adds 20c/kwh.)
            The battery is not a source of energy, but adds cost to store it, as you note, but any other benefits of solar not directly related to storage, can’t be attributed to the inclusion of the battery.
            In this case, cost per kwh generated for, and processed by the 6kwh battery is $0.30

            If the battery processes the full 16kwh output that a 5kwp may produce;
            16kwh storage = $2240
            Solar = $6,500
            Total $8,740
            Assuming 4000 cycles, that’s $2.18/day, or $0.136/kWh.
            Without the battery, cost is $0.101/kwh.
            (Storage adds 3.5c/kwh.)

            At the moment, Australian re-sellers bundle. Powerwall+Solar for AUD 16,500.
            Assuming the same 4000 cycles, that’s $4.12/day or $0.69/kWh for the production of 6kwh of stored energy.

          • vensonata .

            Ahem, I am trying sincerely to follow your math. I believe it is off, although…perhaps I just don’t understand. But let me clarify at least my math. If a battery has a full 5000 cycles and it costs $100 per kwh then each kwh costs $100 divided by 5000. And that is 2cents per kwh. At this point there is nothing more to add…that is precisely and finally and absolutely the costs per kwh of that battery.
            Part two is the cost per kwh of the PV. That formula is well known and can be typed into such sites as PVWATTS of the National Renewable Energy Lab. All parameters will be given based on the site, PV angle and costs etc. The final cost per kwh will be spit out. If it is 8 cents per kwh and we add the 2 cents per kwh of the battery we get 10cents per kwh. If you use 10 of those per day it costs $1. That seems straightforward enough.

          • Peter Voight

            Yes, 2 cents for your first calculation. You did that by taking the battery cost, and dividing by cycles to reach 2c/kWh.

            I did the same for the total cost of the solar+ battery.
            Taking 4000 cycles. $1.83 is the ‘daily cost’ for both. The solar only is less. The difference is the daily cost the battery adds to the system.

            The battery can only process 6kWh, so the individual cost of each kwh processed by the the battery is 30c.

            Only when the battery processes all of the solar energy

            ( battery capacity, equals solar capacity) will you see the cost of your first calculation.

          • Peter Voight

            Just to add some explanation. The battery adds to system cost. If only the 6kwh processed by the battery is considered, that’s $0.30/kwh. The remaining 10kWh, could be used to lower that cost, but the battery does not help to achieve that aim.

            Using the same numbers, but excluding the battery, and reducing solar size to 10kwh, then cost/kwh falls.
            The amount saved can buy at least 6kwh from the grid, but only when and if I need it. The actual cost of battery storage depends on how the remainder is used. Storage cost in this case, will vary from 30c/kWh hour to 3.5c/kWhr, dependent on consumption.

            To unequivocally claim the battery adds only 3.5c/kwh, then the battery must process the full 16kwh.

        • Gary

          The way I look at it is to assume you have to recover 10% of the capital cost per year. If you assume 200 cycles per year that is 5c per kWh stored.

      • Steve Grinwis

        I like where your head is at.

      • newnodm

        You can have a system installed for $1.50 AUD today. That is $1.06 in real money

        • vensonata

          Thank you for reaffirming reality. These prices are here today, and are inflated by permitting costs in the U.S. Now the only thing standing in the way is storage costs, of which, the avowed aim of Nationally sponsored research is “5 times as cheap and 5 times as energy dense within 5 years. 5x5x5” That begins in 2014 by the way. All eyes fixed on 2019!

          • Riely Rumfort

            The 5x5x5 may have been a bit ambitious.
            How about 3x3x5?
            I’d be happy with 2x2x2 as well, <$250 per kWh NMC count me in during 2017.

          • vensonata

            Well, $250 kwh is the Powerblock cost already, although I don’t think it is the high cycle manganese of the 7kwh powerwall. However, consider that is for the entire package with electronics and case etc. What portion of that is actual battery cost. Certainly the basic battery is no more that $225 kwh. And now consider the ITC at 30% applied to this. The powerblock at $25,000 is suddenly $17,500. $175 kwh. We are well on the way to $100 kwh, though it may require a tax rebate, and possibly by 2019.

          • Riely Rumfort

            At this point I wonder, what’s your story, what are your ambitions, where are you from, what do you do?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think you are about to be surprised…. ;o)

          • vensonata

            Me? I am a monk. Ya, a real one. I know, I know, a monk in the 21st century is more or less a scandal and an outrage at this point in history. At this moment I am sitting in my “tiny house” in the middle of Canadian mountains, with 2 feet of snow going out to the horizon. The monastery/retreat center accommodates up to 25 people (I have lost count of the moose) and runs on solar and biofuel in the form of pine beetle killed firewood.
            I contribute to these discussions as initiated by the Gethsemane conference in 2008 between Catholic and Buddhist monasteries. It was called “Green Monasticism”. Monastic communities may have a surprising amount to contribute to the environmental discussion. However if you want dating advice, I am not your best advisor.

          • Riely Rumfort

            Suprisingly Monks aren’t as alien to me as you might think, I taught a monk in Thailand a great deal of english in a 2 month correspondance. He had come across my social media account and added me, it went from there. He went by ‘Fern’ in his native tongue, I used 2 translators to have a ‘best consensus’ for accurate conversation. Discussed western life and language while he described his daily routine and worldview. Interesting to say the least.
            I can understand your devotion to remote influence, I’ll be sustainably remote in due time myself.
            My big plan is a 3/4Solar 1/4Wind battery powered well insulated <60% in ground dwelling Greenhouse of sorts. Creating most of my food while having a complete indoor biocycle. If I do it well enough it could be a practical model for an alternative life-style.
            Aquaponics, aeroponics, algae/phytoplankton, azolla, vermicomposting, nitrate activating/fixing biofilters, outdoor pond and structural filteration systems built into the land, etc.
            Me and monks are usually on the same page, I'm a piece which reliezes itself of a larger chain as well.

          • vensonata

            Here is a thumbnail description of my well insulated (R50) 60% inground greenhouse. 3200 sq ft with a 200 sq ft. food storage cold room from earth temperatures. We raise non edible plants just for their oxygen and air filtering and just friendly plant vibes. It is also our library, dining room and indoor walking meditation area (because of the long winter). Insulated panels are closed at night over the double pane windows. Could we raise veggies? I haven’t tried, but maybe coffee as an experiment. Welcome to the sleepy monk cafe.

          • Jenny Sommer

            There are some scientists here that experiment with planting vegetables in unheated foil tunnel greenhouses. They discovered that a lot green vegetables are winterhard in our climate (Austria). Brassica salad tolerated -14°C. They also successfully plant herbs like parsley. Now there are some farmers planting through winter so that less fresh food has to be imported from southern Spain or other places.
            They found hundreds of vegetables that can be grown successfully inspite the literature saying otherwise.

          • vensonata

            My “greenhouse” is actually a fully lived in heated space. So I imagine we could grow quite a few things. But we stick to non edibles for now.

          • Riely Rumfort

            Lol, that’s pretty synchronous that you are living in that style as I look to. May I advise using the water of an Aquaponics system as a thermal sink, maybe in your case having an either clear or black tank on wheels to roll more inward after catching some light, a cyclical symbiosis would be your best route into veggies.
            I’m guessing for oxygen you have a queen/boston fern, peace lilys for air purity, and a snake plant to release oxygen over night?
            So how’d you get started as a monk?

          • vensonata

            My dear sir, the story of becoming a monk is often told. In fact monks are nothing more than story machines. But it would ill suit the context of Cleantechnica to use its precious space for such amusements.

          • Riely Rumfort

            Meh, as much as I respect the limits of forums/comment sections some discussions supersede such practices.

  • Steve Grinwis

    I thought Zach moved to Florida?

    • Kyle Field

      That’s the plan…but he’s still in Poland for the time being.

      • newnodm

        He is slowly moving closer to Elon Musk. I see a restraining order in Zach’s future.

        • Kyle Field

          Haha…he’ll still have a full 3,000 miles to go. It would be safe to start calling Zach the Elon Musk of the East though 🙂

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