Romanian Li-ion battery maker teams up with EIT InnoEnergy, to scale up production with EUR 1 bln investment
Romanian lithium-ion batteries producer Prime Batteries Technology (PBT), set up in 2016 by two local entrepreneurs, joined forces with the EIT InnoEnergy conglomerate co-founded by the European Union but including European banks and companies such as ING, Volkswagen or Siemens, and plans to invest EUR 1 bln to boost its production capacity to 8GWh by 2026 from 0.2GWh currently.
For an estimated average price of Li-ion batteries of USD 135 per kWh in 2021, the company’s turnover should reach EUR 1 bln within four years, up from under EUR 8 mln in 2021.
EIT became a shareholder of PBT, but no specific details of the deal were disclosed.
PBT currently operates a production capacity near Bucharest, in the commune of Cernica. This small factory makes it the only manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries in Romania and South-East Europe, according to Profit.ro. A new plant would be developed there in the first stage, for which company representatives say they have the construction permit.
Adrian Polec and Vicentiu Ciobanu founded the company as shareholders and managers. South Africa’s Metair Group, the majority shareholder in conventional car battery producer Rombat, has 10% of the shares, according to Hotnews.ro data.
“The financing will come from investment funds specialized in renewable energy in the proportion of 30-35%, and we will cover the difference from credits,” according to the Romanian company’s representatives, quoted by Businessmagazin.ro. The investors have also applied for public funding – they sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Energy and look forward to applying within several schemes.
The investment plan has two stages, with EUR 200 mln earmarked for a new plant with a production capacity of 2GWh to be ready by 2024. The development should later accelerate so as to quadruple the production capacity of the company within another two years, by 2026. The raw material for the factory, namely lithium, nickel, copper and aluminium, would be imported from China.
As target markets, PBT representatives said they aim at three directions: the automotive area, industrial applications and the storage of renewable energy production.
EIT InnoEnergy, which Pitchbook ranks as the most active sustainable energy investor globally, is the driving force behind the European Battery Alliance (EBA) and is recognized as a major early investor in other successful battery gigafactory ventures. These range from Swedish Northvolt (recently closed USD 2,75 bln financing round) to French Verkor (closed EUR 250 mln funding round and secured a strategic partnership with Renault).
(Photo source: LinkedIn/Prime Batteries Technology)