Chinese battery and EV giant BYD has begun construction on what will be the world’s biggest battery production plant, as it works to meet both booming global demand for battery electric vehicles and stationary energy storage – and its own ambitious production target of 60GWh of capacity by 2020.
The 24GWh factory is being built in Western China’s Qinghai province, and will be the company’s third such plant in China, once construction is completed in 2019.
BYD said the Qinghai factory would be “technologically advanced,” using driverless automatic guided vehicles, among other smarts.
“Electrification is a done deal as several countries have announced a deadline for the sale of internal combustion engine cars to end,” said BYD president and chairman Wang Chuanfu in comments on Thursday.
“Electric vehicles are on the cusp of another boom.”
On top of demand from EVs, the company is ramping up efforts to capture the residential and commercial battery storage market, including in Australia, where it unveiled a slightly updated range of modular “solar batteries” in March.
The battery modules start at 3.5kWh (up form 2.5kWh), and can be stacked up to 14kWh. Beyond that – for bigger residential and smaller commercial projects – the 14kWh battery stacks, or boxes, can then be “daisy chained” together in groups of three to get 42kWh.
At the bigger end of the commercial scale market, battery packs from the “same family” can provide capacity up to 300kWh.
As well as being a market pioneer in China, the company, whose name is an acronym for Build Your Dreams, has had considerable success with its battery storage products in European markets, and particularly in Germany.
The new manufacturing muscle from BYD comes as key rival, Tesla, emerges from a self-proclaimed “production hell” in its barely finished gigafactories, to begin meeting demand for its own batteries and cars.
It’s worth noting that while BYD churned out more than 108,000 plug-in EVs in China in 2017 – and that was a slow year – in terms of stationary energy storage manufacturing volumes, it has only recently overtaken Tesla.
But while BYD sees Tesla as a major rival, BYD’s director of global sales, Julia Chen, has told RE that building up the global market for battery storage has been an industry-wide effort.
“We consider that Tesla is also a pioneer in batteries,” Chen told One Step, in an interview on Tuesday. “They have done a great job bring attention to the industry and in educating consumers about the technology,” she said.