New South African Lithium-Ion Cell Mega-Factory, Plans For 32 GWh/Year By 2028

Batteries

Published on February 9th, 2020 | by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

February 9th, 2020 by  


Hopes To Put Southern Africa On Path To Battery Manufacturing Self Sufficiency

We recently looked at how battery supply constraints on the world market and electricity blackouts have catalyzed the South African battery assembly industry. We looked at three startups that are importing lithium-iron-phosphate prismatic cells from China, then incorporating their own proprietary battery management systems (BMS) as well as their own energy management systems (EMS), and then assembling battery packs locally. These packs are mostly going into stationary storage applications, with a small percentage of them starting to find applications in the EV conversions market in South Africa.

The battery storage market in South Africa is expected to grow significantly going forward as companies and homes look to cushion themselves from ongoing electricity blackouts. Eskom, the stated-owned utility company, has been battling to keep the lights on during peak demand hours. Electricity blackouts are expected for at least another 18 months according to some reports.

One company plans to take South Africa’s battery manufacturing a step further by manufacturing the Li-ion cells locally.

The Megamillion Energy Company outlined its plans at the Batteries and Electric Vehicles Conference recently hosted by the uYilo eMobility Programme. Megamillion wants to be Africa’s first large-scale manufacturer of Li-ion cells and battery packs, in the hope of bringing down prices and thereby catalysing mass adoption of energy storage systems. Speaking at the 2019 Batteries and Electric Vehicles conference in South Africa, Nechan Naicker, the founder and CEO of The Megamillion Energy Company, announced, “Africa’s time has come. The Megamillion Energy Company will be Africa’s first large-scale producer of lithium ion batteries, making lithium ion batteries in Africa for Africa’s benefit first.”

Megamillion hopes to leverage abundant battery mineral resources in the Southern African region and believes that by localizing the supply chain, it can produce cheaper energy storage systems. The chosen form factor is the cylindrical 2680 cell (a diameter of 26 mm  and a length of 80 mm) using nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) chemistry for the cathode. According to Megamillion, its cells have a capacity of 6200mAh and an energy density of over 200Wh/kg. Nickel, cobalt, manganese, graphite, and of course lithium can all be sourced in South Africa and several countries across Southern Africa.

Table 1: Mineral resources for battery materials found across Southern Africa 

A pilot plant is set to be up and running in Q1 of 2020, producing 0.2 GWh of battery cells per year, with a plan to gradually increase cell production to about 32 GWh per annum by 2028. 
 

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About the Author

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.



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