Gigafactories will Reduced Battery Production Emissions, Study Claims

Gigafactories will help reduce CO2 emissions from automotive battery production, a new study claims.

Researchers from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden say scaling up production through gigafactories can cut the environmental impact significantly, compared to small-scale industrial production. Add the possibility that energy used to power the factories might come from green sources, the emissions can be reduced to roughly one quarter compared to results presented a few years ago.

It admits that the largest environmental impact on BEV manufacture usually results from the production of batteries. The research adds: “Over the last decade substantial research has been dedicated to analyzing battery production processes to identify the steps with the highest impacts. But earlier data for such analysis has usually been derived from small-scale production facilities, or even pilot projects.”

To rectify this, the researchers used a life cycle assessment to remodel a commonly cited study relating to small scale production and combined it with updated data more representative of the most modern and state-of-the-art upcoming production facilities.

When adjusting for different scenarios relating to the energy supply for such factories, even in the most carbon-intensive case, based on South Korea, the researchers observed an emissions reduction of nearly 45%. In addition, if the energy is supplied from low carbon-intensity sources, the emissions reduce by a further 55%. If regions with low carbon electricity supplies are selected for the launch of battery production at giga-scale, the potential is very good for producing batteries with lowest possible environmental footprint. Northvolt also recently announced another new factory, to be constructed in Gothenburg,

Mudit Chordia, doctoral student at the Department of Technology Management and Economics at Chalmers University of Technology, said: “Our results revealed how upscaling battery production from megawatt to the gigawatt level yields significant reductions in energy usage per kilowatt hour of battery-storage capacity produced – up to 58%. The efficiency gains of large-scale production are highly significant.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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