European battery 'Gigafactory' opens

May 17, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
BMZ GmbH (Karlstein-Großwelzheim, Germany) has opened the first section of what will be Europe’s biggest lithium-ion battery factory, labelling it as “Europe’s Gigafactory” in an allusion to the Tesla battery plant being built in the western USA). Over the next four years, BMZ plans to more than quadruple production areas in Germany.

With construction taking only a little over a year, BMZ, a developer and producer of intelligent lithium-ion batteries, has now opened up the first two production, logistics and office buildings in addition to an existing production areas of 7,000 m² at the company’s present headquarters. In the manufacturing units comprising 4,800 m² each, up to 200 million lithium-ion batteries of the most different kind and size with an overall storage capacity of about 15 GWh can be developed, produced and tested every year.

By 2020 four further production, laboratory and office buildings covering a total space of 15,000 m² are planned on the new company site of 55,000 m². After the completion of the construction works up to 1,500 BMZ employees will produce 800 million lithium-ion batteries in a range of different sizes annually with an overall storage capacity of 30 Gwh, from the industrial site in Karlst ein-Großwelzheim alone.

At present the company has around 120,000 m² production sites in its own companies in Germany, China, the USA and Poland. Company founder and owner Sven Bauer explains, “The current discussions on subsidies for electric cars often forget that lithium-ion batteries are also used in e-bikes, electrical appliances, gardening tools, energy storage systems, transport vehicles, excavators and so on."

"Unlike electric cars we are presently undergoing a real demand boom in many of these sectors, and we assume that the demand in these segments will further increase by 15 to 30% annually in the coming years depending on application range. The modular concept of our new ultra-modern factory units enables BMZ to respond even faster and more flexible to this growth scenario as well as specified customer requests in the future.”

The setup of Europe’s biggest lithium-ion battery factory in Karlstein shows – according to Bauer – how important this technology has become especially for the industry location Germany. The battery expert assumes that by 2020 wireless solutions will dominate the markets; a development that will offer enormous growth opportunities.