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EIT InnoEnergy set to invest in ElevenEs's lithium battery plant in Serbia


ElevenEs expects new battery plant to be operational in 2023

Initial annual capacity will be 300 MWh of LFP cells

Construction of larger 8 GWh capacity plant to start in 2024

Serbia's ElevenEs has signed agreements with Netherlands-based sustainable energy investor EIT InnoEnergy to build the first lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery gigafactory in Europe, the Serbian company said in a statement Oct. 21.

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The ElevenEs plant will be able to produce LFP cells with an estimated initial annual capacity of 300 MWh in the northern Serbian town of Subotica by 2023, ElevenEs said in the statement.

Construction of a 100% renewable energy powered 8 GWh plant in Subotica, close to the Serbian border with Hungary, will start in 2024. It will later be expanded to a capacity of 16 GWh, which is enough to equip more than 300,000 electric vehicles with batteries each year.

Subotica-based ElevenEs, an industrial spin-off of the multinational Al Pack Group, said it has secured an undisclosed investment and additional support from Eindhoven-based EIT InnoEnergy.

The Dutch company has been active as an early-stage investor in other battery gigafactory projects, including Northvolt and Verkor. EIT InnoEnergy independently confirmed the news of a deal in a statement Oct. 21.

LFP batteries choice for shorter range vehicles

By 2030, Europe will need 14 times more batteries than it produces today, said EIT InnoEnergy in its statement.

"Although nickel-based batteries outperform LFP on energy density and are likely to remain the best option for performance cars, LFP is far better in terms of cost, safety and lifetime, making it a perfect choice for industrial, ESS and city EV (shorter range) applications," said Jakub Miler, CEO at EIT InnoEnergy Central Europe in the statement.

ElevenEs has revealed it intends to employ up to 2,000 employees in the facility that is relatively close to Jadar Valley, the largest deposit of lithium in Europe.

Rio Tinto Serbia, which is developing the Jadar project in Serbia, did not respond to a request for comments on potential lithium offtake deals with ElevenEs.

ElevenEs, its parent company Al Pack Group, and EIT InnoEnergy did not immediately respond to requests for information on possible cooperation with Rio Tinto Serbia.

ElevenEs has an advanced research and development center operating in Subotica, Serbia, on the premises of its parent company since June 2021. The company said that it has developed its own LFP technology to produce batteries for electric passenger cars, buses, trucks, forklifts, other industrial vehicles, and energy storage systems.

"LFP cells last more than twice as long as competing chemistries, they can be recharged up to 6,000 times, charge faster, can be repeatedly charged to 100% state-of-charge and cause practically no fires in EVs. On top of that, they cost significantly less. It is the most popular choice in China today, which is still the global leader in battery technology," said Nemanja Mikać, founder and CEO of ElevenEs, in the statement.

LFP batteries are more affordable, durable, sustainable and safer than competing solutions, and they do not require cobalt, nickel, and other hard-to-obtain minerals, according to the ElevenEs statement.