Boston Energy consortium advances plans for Queensland battery gigafactory | RenewEconomy

Boston Energy consortium advances plans for Queensland battery gigafactory

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Australian consortium ready to choose site in Townsville for first Australian battery “gigafactory”, signs deal to do same in New York.

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A high-powered consortium that is proposing to build a battery storage gigafactory in Townsville in north Queensland says it is closer to choosing a site for the multi-billion dollar investment after meetings with the local council and state government officials.

The consortium is headed by Boston Energy and Innovation, a company led by former Macquarie Bank senior executive Bill Moss, and includes Eastman Kodak, Australian graphite producer Magnis Resources, and US battery storage production specialists C4V and C&D Assembly.


It is proposing to build a 15GWh battery storage manufacturing plant in Townsville – enough, it says, to produce storage for one million home battery units, for 300 micro-grids, or for 250,000 electric vehicles with a range of 400kms.

Over the last few weeks the consortium says it has identified a number of potential local council and state development sites and has received a high level of local and overseas interest for both the funding of the project and for offtake.

“The level of interest coming through for the Townsville Gigafactory is extraordinary,” Magnis chairman Frank Poullas said in a statement issued late on Friday.

“Being able to create a sustainable supply chain that bypasses the current major battery producing nations is something that really appeals to potential end users and investors.” Once the site is selected, the company says, a feasibility study will then be carried out.

BEI’s Moss has described the project as an opportunity for Australia to become a world leader in the manufacture of battery storage, as well as its deployment.

Moss says the consortium is committed to transforming Australia’s energy supply through the provision of cost-effective battery storage, and says the project could create 2,000 direct jobs in manufacturing and support 5,000 indirect jobs through supply chains.

Most of the same partners have also unveiled plans for a similar sized battery storage “gigafactory” in New York state, and announced on Monday that this would be located at the Huron campus, the home of IBM (pictured above).

Under that agreement, a new 15GWh lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant will make use of existing facilities and infrastructure in the state of New York and will target markets including electric vehicles, heavy electric vehicles, battery storage systems and replacing lead acid batteries.

“Today’s announcement shows the commitment of the consortium towards fast tracking the production of lithium-ion batteries,” Poullas said in a statement.

“There’s no doubt that there are many lithium-ion battery plants being currently built and speed to market is important to capture the advantages of the consortium’s materials and technologies.

“The recent announcements are the result of significant investment in time and effort over recent years by consortium members.  The selection of the Huron site provides a springboard to further accelerate these efforts towards future battery production.”

Magnis will be responsible for supplying the anode materials and technologies for both plants, while the cathode materials and technologies, manufacturing processes to produce electrodes and the battery cells comprised of those electrodes will be handled by C4V, and by Eastman Kodak in Townsville and Primet Precision Materials in NY.

C&D Assembly with its state of the art electronics manufacturing facility located in Groton, New York, will provide the battery management systems and power harnessing.

BEI will assist with project structuring, capital raising and global expansion, and Moss says these plants will be the “first of a series of proposed lithium-ion battery manufacturing hubs globally.”

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  1. Mark Fowler 3 years ago

    Better jobs and more useful output than a coal mine. Will Canavan, Joyce et al get behind this proposal.

    • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

      It’s all about who pays the politicians more….

  2. Dennis Kavanagh 3 years ago

    Seems a bit pie in the sky. Do they have contracts with any electric car manufacturers? Are they going to produce a set of home storage products into a market that is already flooded with such offerings? Where will they get the resources from and what costs will be incurred in transporting resources and products within Australia and overseas?

    • john 3 years ago

      You have nailed it exactly, do not just build a plant or start a company unless you have a solid business plan in place, with clients and a cash flow to sustain the growth.
      Just starting a factory with no underlying income stream to sustain it will lead to failure.

      • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

        Would a former Macquarie Bank executive think that through do you think?

        • Joe 3 years ago

          Big Mal is always up for innovation and agility, yes

      • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

        There will be a demand for 100 battery gigafactories. Yes, they will be able to sell all those batteries. Smart to keep the money in the country. Batteries are part of the new oil/coal/nat gas solution. Live in the future. After filling AU with batteries, it is time for replacements…. And as in the US plant, they can recycle batteries too…
        AU imports 484,000 barrels per day oil.
        A solar factory and battery factory would keep that money in the country.
        I live in the US state of Wisconsin. We outsource $12B of work to fossil fuel companies… Stupid Wisconsin!!!!
        BE smart!

        • Mark Roest 3 years ago

          Running the numbers on the 484,000 barrels of oil per day, at $40 per barrel, which it used to be, that’s $19,360,000 per day, or $7,066,400,000 per year. At $25 per barrel, which seems to be the future, that’s $12,100,000 per day, or $4,416,500,000 per year.
          Over 3 years, saving $12,100,000 per day, it’s $13.25 billion.
          Divide that by the Australian population of 24.4 million, and we get $543 per person saved. Multiply that by the average household size of 2.6 to get $1412 per household that could potentially be kept on Australia’s side of the balance of payments ledger over 3 years by switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy and batteries.
          Because of markups, refining, and other costs, the actual household switching would save far more; probably enough to pay off a solar, battery, and car-charging system. It would be a nice exercise for an economist. Figure the battery at $100 to $150 per kWh, the solar at whatever the range of prices is expected to be by 2020, and the charging systems at $3,500 per port.

          • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

            In Wisconsin the average is over $2,000 per person per year. They give $12B away, but argue over a million here ans a million there….
            In Wisconsin we have no natural resources, except sun,wind and maybe biomass…
            You do have your own coal in AU which makes it a little harder to argue.
            But on an individual basis in AU you can say that you can create your own energy on your property.

      • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

        The spokesman says there is a high level of local and overseas interest for both funding and offtake (wholesale customers.

  3. howardpatr 3 years ago

    Trust BEI have thoroughly researched the 24M technology which is being further worked on by NEC?

  4. Brad Sherman 3 years ago

    Hmmh. C4V’s website seems to be a bit brief. I’ll stick with Tesla until the dust settles. I suspect there will be a lot of eager newbies trying to get into the battery manufacturing game. I wish them well, though. Local production would be a plus but with a capacity of 1m homes per year it sounds like they’ll be struggling in 20 years. But that’s a long time into the future …

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      There’ll be a lot of houses in Asia and Africa looking for battery storage in twenty years — though I’d be surprised if graphene supercapacitors (or something) haven’t started to take over from Lithium Ion by then. Though maybe they’d build plants for that closer to POS?

      • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

        Yes, graphene will be exciting and a game changer…

      • Mike Shackleton 3 years ago

        At the moment Graphene enhanced Li-Ion batteries seem to be where the development is at. It’s not as simple as removing Lithium from the equation altogether…

  5. Michel Syna Rahme 3 years ago

    My family run a small sailing business in Airlie Beach and have done for the last 18 years. My step father just returned yesterday from a test sail out to the Whitsunday islands to check the reef, after having new rigging installed due the damage our beautiful wooden yacht sustained from the boat next to us in the marina during the cyclone. Due to that cyclone moving so slowly, the damage to the reef surrounding some of the islands is devastating. I’m talking real damage!

    The reef has already been under severe stress over the last few years. Many of the Europeans that come sailing on our boat are saying they are coming now to see the GBR before it dies. I mean, How sad is that! I do not and will not accept this! I work in commercial solar and we just employed another person. More jobs on the way. We have installed close to 3MW over the last 18 months. The COAL industry have 5 gears and slowly we have been winding this fight up to 5th gear and they are at close to max. What the coal industry does not realize, really, is that we on the clean energy side, in comparison, have 7 gears – so if Labor allow the Adani Carmichael mine to proceed – get ready for our gear change LABOR (I have voted Labor every election and never again if that mine goes ahead)!!!!!! NEVER!!!!!!!
    SO, here we are, we have a consortium committed to transforming Australia’s energy supply through the provision of cost-effective battery storage, and says the project could create 2,000 direct jobs in manufacturing and support 5,000 indirect jobs through supply chains. 2000 JOBS!!!!!!!!! HOW CAN LABOR SUPPORT THE ADANI COAL MINE OVER THIS PROPOSAL????? how????????? tell me LABOR? Tell me Curtis Pitt? Tell me Premier of QLD????? Malcolm?????? Bill Shorten?????

    • Joe 3 years ago

      Michel I am with you 100%. I am from Sydney and I count myself as one of the lucky ones to have visited The GBR. I was enthralled with the magic of The Reef and it reinforced into my belief about protecting our precious environment. My visit was many years ago before the recent years of major coral bleaching events and cyclones, that which really saddens me. I am a Labor supporter but Federal Labor’s support for Adani is a disgrace and I’ve written to Bill Shorten & co to tell them that. They will no longer receive my vote if they support Adani. I see reports that Premier Anastacia / QLD Labor is now sort of back peddling on backing Adani. QLD support for the $1Billion loan to build that train line and the royalties holiday have been pulled off the table. Perhaps Bill Shorten can take this lead from Premier Annastacia. The Federal Liberals are a lost cause with Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce going hard in backing Adani. How about we plonk that proposed Battery Gigafactory smack bang in the Galilee Basin, yes. We want Renewable Energy and everything that supports it, NOT, Fossil Energy!

    • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

      Sailing! Free transit!! LOL!

  6. Jolly Roger 3 years ago

    I can’t see any advantages for building a gigafactory in FNQ. If one were ever built in Aus it would surely have to be in western NSW. But in terms of competition there will be a big shake out in the lithium battery sector as smaller players cant compete on price with Tesla initially then with manufacturers in China that mimic Tesla production.

    • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

      Townsville has a port, an available workforce, the infrastucture to support it and plenty of sunny days. There are no cities in NSW close to the size of Townsville. It sounds like a lot will be exported.

      • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

        AU DOES have some lithium…..
        I don’t know about the other metals needed….
        You do have cobalt…

        • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

          If it’s in the ground we’ve got it. Want to buy some iron ore?

          • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

            Turn the iron ore into EVs……

        • Mike Shackleton 3 years ago

          Australia certainly does have “some” lithium. It’s the largest miner/producer of it in the world!

          • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

            It’s sounds like Turnbull is as hard to get something in his head as Trump!

  7. Richard 3 years ago

    The fact they are proposing to build this in FNQ indicates it is some sort of pie in the sky ponzi scheme that could only come out of Queensland. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • nakedChimp 3 years ago

      Hehe, yeah, definitely sounds like one of these things that turn up here from time to time to get people dreaming.

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