A new 500 million-euro plant that will produce lithium-ion batteries for Daimler AG will facilitate the use of renewable power in both cars and utilities. Energy storage is no longer of interest just to power companies, but to major automakers as well. This interest will bring not only improvements to electric cars in the future, but also a decrease in the cost of batteries. Similar to the large scale factory in Germany, plants in Sweden, Hungary and Poland will help automakers like Volkswagen AG and Renault SA. These strategic moves are also seen as Europe’s answer to Tesla’s battery gigafactory. According to BNEF, by 2021 global battery-making capacity will increase twofold to 278GWh.
The price drop of batteries brings the cost of energy storage systems down and helps utilities handle better the intermittent power from renewable sources.
At present, Asia is leading the battery business, with South Korea’s electronics makers LG Ltd. and Samsung SDI Co. being among the biggest sellers. Automakers are also eager to enter the battery market. Daimler’s factory will produce batteries not only for its cars, but also for its home energy storage systems it provides together with Vivint Solar Inc.