On Monday, the North Carolina-based, European-backed company announced plans to invest $1 billion in turning an old Philip Morris cigarette factory into a battery factory eventually capable of churning out “several gigawatts” per year, CEO Jostein Eikeland told me in an interview. Utility customers in North America are soon to be announced, and the company has already booked about 200 megawatts of orders, enough to fill the factory’s planned production next year, he said.
Alevo says its lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries are the first to use an inorganic electrolyte based on sulfur, which prevents the chemical reactions that lead to heating, expansion and eventual failure for lithium-ion batteries. Test cells have lasted more than 40,000 cycles in “hammer tests” that completely discharge and then overcharge them over and over again, without significant degradation of performance, he said.
They won’t be for sale, however — not exactly. Instead, the company plans to package them up into its 2-megawatt, 1 megawatt-hour GridBank containerized energy storage systems and make them available as a turnkey contractor and ongoing operator of energy storage sites and farms, he said. That could be as contractors of government or private utilities, or as market participants, he added.