Recent LG Chem, CATL, & SK Innovation Battery News

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The good news in 2020: there’s a lot of battery news! If it weren’t for other things … ahem … I think we could call 2020 “The Year of the Battery.”

A week and a half ago, I published a roundup of 10 battery stories we couldn’t give their own headlines. Many others have gotten their own headlines. Three of the top companies in EV battery world had some notable news at the end of April that never saw the light of day here on CleanTechnica, though.

LG Chem — Carbon Nanotubes

Photo courtesy LG Chem

LG Chem is pumping money into boosting production capacity of carbon nanotubes, considered by many a “dream material.” The company is investing 65 billion KRW ($53.7 million) into a production facility in Yeosu, South Korea, between now and the 1st quarter of 2021.

“We will become a dominant market leader in the next-generation high-value materials based on our unique proprietary technologies and experiences in mass production,” Noh Kug-lae, LG Chem Executive Vice President and President of Petrochemicals, said.

The investment will increase the company’s carbon nanotube (CNT) production capacity from 500 tons a year to 1,700 tons a year. Global CNT production was approximately 3,000 tons in 2019. By 2024, it’s expected to be 13,000, mostly due to its usefulness in EV batteries.

“CNT is a next-generation new material having the same electric and heat conductivity equivalent to copper and diamonds, and its intensity is 100 times of steel. Thanks to its properties that are superior to existing materials, its use is wide ranging including batteries, semiconductors, automobile parts, aircraft fuselages, etc.”

CATL — Commercial Electric Vehicle Expansion

Photo courtesy CATL

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) has risen to become one of the world’s largest EV battery producers in recent years. In April it commenced partnerships with VDL Bus & Coach B.V. and Quantron AG to supply the batteries for new commercial electric vehicles for Europe.

CATL will be supplying VDL Bus & Coach with lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) batteries using its new cell-to-pack platform, probably the same batteries it just started selling to Tesla.

“VDL Bus & Coach has been the market leader in the electric bus sector in Europe with a share of 22 percent.” It expects to grow its market share even further using CATL’s new battery technology. Electric buses coming out of this partnership are supposed to be launched in the Netherlands this year (2020).

The partnership with Quantron AG is just that Quantron AG is now an authorized dealer to sell CATL batteries for commercial vehicles and industrial purposes in Europe. Quantron AG is based in Germany.

SK Innovation — $2.5 Billion US Investment

SK Innovation Battery Gigafactory in Georgia (rendering), courtesy SK Innovation

SK Innovation, based in South Korea, raised its planned investment into two battery factories in Georgia from $1.67 billion to $2.5 billion. The attributed reason is that the company expects more electric vehicle (EV) demand from consumers than it previously expected.

The two factories in the city of Commerce are expected to have a combined annual production capacity of 21.5 gigawatt-hours (GWh). The two facilities will be at the same site, so they’re essentially one “gigafactory” — Giga Georgia to use Tesla terminology.

“SK Innovation broke ground on the first plant at the Georgia site in March 2019 and is expected to begin mass production in 2022. Construction on the second plant is expected to begin in July at the same site with mass production to start in 2023. SK Innovation has said it could invest as much as $5 billion in its U.S. battery business and create as many as 6,000 jobs.”

This US gigafactory combined with gigafactories in Europe and Asia will bring SK Innovation’s annual battery production capacity up to 71 GWh by 2023 if all goes according to plan. That would be two gigafactories at the scale of Tesla’s original plan for Gigafactory 1.

Incidentally, there was a rumor last year that SK Innovation would increase its investment into EV battery production in Georgia to $5 billion. So, either that rumor was straight-up wrong, the increased investment is delayed, COVID-19 cut the plans in half, or option #2 and #3 combined.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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