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Federal boost for planned gigafactory

Fresh funding for Aussie lithium battery startup could help create up to 1300 jobs

Energy Renaissance, an Australian lithium-ion battery startup, has been awarded a government grant that could help pave the way for development and expansion.

The co-funded grant from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) awarded Energy Renaissance $A246,625, an amount that was matched by the company itself – resulting in total fresh investment of $493,250. 

Energy Renaissance says the new funding will be used to accelerate its research and development in both technology and production areas, as it moves towards production of batteries for Australia and export to Southeast Asia. 

The company plans to establish a large-scale manufacturing site, called Renaissance One, which will produce high-performance scalable lithium-ion storage batteries – and ones specifically optimised for operation in warm climates, to exploit a niche in the battery marketplace. 

It’s hoped that the facility will create jobs for up to 1300 workers and that 60 per cent of its batteries will be exported.

As well as contributing to Australia’s gross domestic product, every job created at the plant is mooted to create up to five other jobs in associated industries such as mining. 

 “The cleantech manufacturing industry has the potential to lead Australia’s economic recovery post-COVID-19,” said Mark Chilcote, Managing Director of Energy Renaissance.

“By partnering with AMGC, Energy Renaissance will advance local battery manufacturing capabilities, create jobs in Australia and build significant economic benefits for our lithium-ion battery materials industry through a local supply chain.”

Aiding the company on its way is a collaboration with the CSIRO.

Energy Renaissance has also partnered with Cadenza Innovation, an American lithium-ion battery storage specialist, and Chinese energy equipment specialist Wuxi LEAD. 

Previously, Darwin had been earmarked as a site for the new facility.

That deal subsequently fell through, however, and Energy Renaissance is expected to announce the location of its first factory later this year.

In any instance, Australia has much to offer for a lithium-ion battery manufacturer – including resources such as 20 per cent of the world’s lithium reserves and battery-grade graphite.

AMGC’s managing director, Dr Jens Goennemann said, “Australia has an opportunity to lead the world when it comes to energy transition while adding value to our abundant natural resources. It was this ability we identified some time ago with Energy Renaissance and its manufacturing aspirations.

“Energy Renaissance’s hot-climate battery technology has numerous applications across multiple sectors including energy, defence, commercial and industrial – both domestically and abroad. They are an example of how Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry is developing world-leading solutions.”

QLD gigafactory proposal progress

Queensland authorities have approved the findings of a feasibility study for a new 18GWh lithium-ion battery plant in Townsville. 

Approval means that the consortium Imperium3, which intends to build the new Imperium3 Townsville (iM3TSV) lithium-ion battery plant, can now engage with equity partners to raise capital for the project.

The study, which was submitted to the Queensland Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation, showcased a viable business case for the plant and demonstrated how it would be staged – with 6GWh of capacity being added in three phases, reducing risk and initial costs.

It hopes that capital for the facility can be raised by June 2021 and, if the green light is given, construction of the plant could start in January 2022. Should all go to plan, commercial battery production would subsequently start in January 2024.  

Imperium3 consists of the Australian company Magnis Energy Technologies, Australian energy specialist Boston Energy & Innovation and American lithium-ion specialist C4V.

 “Energy security is a major topic along with the creation of local manufacturing and employment in this current climate,” said Magnis chairman Frank Poullas. “This project ticks all the boxes and we look forward to progressing the Townsville project with our partners towards large-scale production.”

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