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Rising battery demand charges industrial plant construction

Industrial Facilities

Rising battery demand charges industrial plant construction

Several U.S. factories are being built in partnership with automakers.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | August 22, 2023
BMW broke ground in June on a new battery assembly plant in South Carolina.
In June, BMW broke ground on a 1-million-sf battery assembly plant on 315 acres in Woodruff, S.C., that will eventually support the production of six electric car models. Rendering; BMW

ICL, a global specialty minerals company with offices in Tel Aviv, Israel, and St. Louis, broke ground earlier this month on a $400 million battery materials manufacturing plant that, when it opens in 2025, will help meet demand from energy storage, electric vehicle, and clean-energy industries for products made in the U.S.
ICL’s investment in this plant was augmented by a $197 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, whose Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, was among the dignitaries attending the August 8 groundbreaking, who included Missouri Governor Mike Parson, and Jarod Boyd, Chief of Staff to St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.
McCarthy Building Companies is the general contractor for the 140,000-sf facility, said to be the first commercial-scale plant of its kind in the U.S. Hargrove Engineers & Consultants is providing architecture, design and all engineering services outside of CE, which Castle is covering.
The facility is expected to produce 30,000 metric tons of lithium iron phosphate (LFP). (E Source, a research, consulting, and data sciences firm, projects global demand for iron phosphate-based cathode active materials to reach 3 million tons by 2031, with a market value of $40 billion.)
The plant will be situated on ICL’s existing Carondelet campus in St. Louis, and construction is expected to create between 800 and 900 union contractor jobs. ICL is also working with Aleees, a Taiwan-based LFP materials producer, to establish a localized, integrated, and sustainable LFP supply chain for U.S.-based customers.

ICL Group's Aug. 8 groundbreaking for a new battery materials plant in St. Louis.
On August 8, iCL Group broke ground in St. Louis on a 140,000-sf battery materials plant that, when completed, will produce 30,000 metric tons of lithium iron phosphate. Image; Courtesy of ICL

Larger-scale plants under construction

The electrification movement, spurred by passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, is emerging as a building boom. Other plants under construction include LG Energy Solutions’ $1.7 billion, 1-million-sf electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility in Holland, Mich., which should be completed by next April. LG Energy Solutions benefits from a $189 million incentives package from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  
Last May, LG Energy Solutions and Hyundai Motor Group announced plans to build a $4.3 billion EV battery plant in Bryan County in Georgia that is expected to bring 3,000 new jobs by the end of 2025, when it will start producing 300,000 batteries per year. The plant will be near Hyundai’s Metaplant America factory, also under construction, that will produce Hyundai-, Genesis-, and Kia-branded electric vehicles. 
BMW Group’s 1-million-sf, $700 million high-voltage battery assembly plant, in Woodruff, S.C., broke ground last June. The new plant, on 315 acres, will support BMW’s car factory in Spartanburg, S.C. It is designed to be solar-ready, and will use collected rainwater to reduce its water consumption. The Woodruff plant is part of BMW’s latest $1.7 billion investment in South Carolina, and its construction includes a technology building, a cafeteria, a fire department, and energy center. 
The Woodruff plant will get its battery cells from Tennessee-based Envision AESC US, which is building a $810 million, 1.5-million-sf cell plant in Florence, S.C.
Last April, General Motors and South Korea-based Samsung SDI revealed plans to invest more than $3 billion in an EV battery cell plant in the U.S. The plant, to be located in Carlisle, Ind., is expected to begin operations in 2026 and create 1,700 jobs, according to both companies. 
GM and LG recently completed a battery-cell plant near Warren, Ohio, and reportedly have battery cell plants in the works in Tennessee and Michigan.

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