Dutch start-up Lithium Werks BV is considering Poland and other European countries for a storage battery plant alongside the 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) one it plans to build in China, founder Kees Koolen told Reuters on Monday. Energy storage is becoming increasingly important as the use of intermittent renewable sources of power grows. Combining wind, solar and battery technology would bring down cost of renewable energy and help power grids balance supply and demand.
Asian players such as CATL, Samsung and LG Chem have taken a lead in the market by locking in supply deals with manufacturers of electric cars, leaving Europe scrambling to catch up. Sweden's Northvolt is aiming to build Europe's biggest battery cell plant in its home market and said earlier this year it had also partnered with South Bay Solutions, a supplier of U.S. electric carmaker Tesla, to jointly set up a plant in Gdansk in Poland.
Lithium Werks expects its Chinese project in the Yangtze River Delta to start operating in 2022, Koolen said in an interview. The company's focus is on lithium iron phosphate batteries which are the size of shipping containers. They are quick to charge and suitable for a variety of uses, including solar and wind farms, as well as in the shipping industry.
"If mankind is to reduce CO2 emission through using solar energy, wind farms, we would need to store this energy in a way other than oil or coal. I expect Europe alone will have 100-200 battery factories in 20 years time," said Koolen, who was also involved in travel website Booking.com in its early days.
"We're considering Poland among several other European countries as a place for another factory," Koolen added, without identifying any of the other European countries.
Koolen said he was still working on project financing for the Chinese factory, on top of the money he has gathered from private investors from Asia and the United States.