South Arkansas residents know that Albemarle Corporation is a world-leading producer of lithium for batteries, and that Standard Lithium is producing lithium at a new El Dorado facility.
They may not know that another company with Magnolia connections is entering the lithium battery market in Europe.
Technology company Panasonic, energy company Equinor and industrial group Hydro have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a strategic partnership. It will explore possibilities for establishing a sustainable and cost-competitive European battery business.
The Hydro facility in Magnolia is a separate component of the Norway-based corporation and isn’t involved in the battery business.
Hydro, Equinor and Panasonic will work together toward summer 2021 to assess the market for lithium-ion batteries in Europe and mature the business case for a green battery business located in Norway.
The companies intend that this initiative is based on Panasonic’s leading technology and targets the European market for electric vehicles and other applications.
The companies will also investigate the potential for an integrated battery value chain and for co-location of supply chain partners. The findings from this initial exploratory phase will form the basis for subsequent decisions.
Mototsugu Sato, executive vice president of Panasonic, said the company sees the strategic partnership with Equinor and Hydro as a potential basis for future development and growth in the energy/battery sector in the European region.
“This collaboration combines Panasonic’s position as an innovative technology company and leader in lithium-ion batteries, with the deep industrial experience of Equinor and Hydro, both strong global players, to potentially pave the way for a robust and sustainable battery business in Norway. Panasonic has powered the last two revolutions in the automotive industry – first by powering hybrids and now, by powering multiple generations of all electric vehicles. We are pleased to enter into this initiative to explore implementing sustainable, highly advanced technology and supply chains to deliver on the exacting needs of lithium-ion battery customers and support the renewable energy sector in the European region.”
“Our companies seek to be leaders in the energy transition. The creation of this world-class battery partnership demonstrates Equinor’s ambition to become a broad energy company. We believe that battery storage will play an increasingly important role in bringing energy systems to net zero emissions. By pooling our different areas of energy expertise, our companies will seek to create a battery business that is profitable, scalable and sustainable,” said Al Cook, executive vice president of Global Strategy & Business Development in Equinor.
Electrification is a fundamental element in Europe’s transition towards net zero emissions in 2050, and batteries are expected to play a vital role in this, especially in the transportation sector, where demand is growing rapidly.
“We expect battery production to grow rapidly as a solution to the world’s number one challenge, climate change. We have already seen in recent years that Hydro’s unique combination of capabilities from renewable energy and processing industries provide a strong foundation for partnerships for exploring growth opportunities in the battery industry,” said Arvid Moss, executive vice president of Energy and Corporate Development in Hydro.
“We believe the combined strengths of Panasonic, Equinor and Hydro represent an attractive starting point for exploring the possibilities for a profitable and sustainable battery business in Norway, where we have a strong foothold, renewable power base and close proximity to the European market,” he said.
As part of this initial phase, the companies will directly engage potential customers in Europe’s automotive and non-automotive industries and enter into dialogue with relevant authorities in Norway and in Europe aiming at ensuring competitive framework conditions for this joint battery initiative. Preliminary findings are expected around mid-2021.