Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 has been a center of attention for people interested in the growing momentum behind green energy, electric cars, and battery production. Therefore, it is no surprise that this facility was in the news again last month, with Tesla starting to mass produce batteries as it ramps up to its goal of 35GWh of capacity and beyond.
However, as exciting as this project is, it’s actually just one of multiple large-scale “megafactories” being built – with many of them being in China.
We talked to Simon Moores, Managing Director at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, who explained that Tesla isn’t alone or unique in its ambitions to build lithium-ion batteries at scale:
While the Tesla Gigafactory is vitally important from an EV vertical integration perspective, the majority of new lithium-ion battery capacity is being built in China. Some of these plants are expected to be huge such as the CATL facility at 50GWh – there is little doubt that China’s lithium-ion industry has come of age.
Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) has plans to build the largest lithium-ion megafactory of all – but the company is little known in North America. It’s already worth $11.5 billion, and could be a dominant force globally in the battery sector if it successfully increases its lithium-ion production capacity six-fold to 50GWh by the year 2020.
Other Chinese manufacturers are on a similar trajectory. Panasonic, LG Chem, and Boston Power are building new megafactory plants in China, while companies such as Samsung and BYD are expanding existing ones. All lithium-ion plants in China currently have a capacity of 16.4GWh – but by 2020, they will combine for a total of 107.5GWh.
This ramp up in China means that the country will have 62% of the world’s lithium-ion battery production capacity by 2020.
There are only three other players in the megafactory game: United States, South Korea, and Poland.
|2016 Capacity (GWh)||2020 Capacity (GWh)||% of Global Total (2020)|
Above estimates on battery capacity courtesy of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.