"Daughter" of "Rosatom" promised Russian electric vehicles unique batteries, by Sergey Ivanov for Autonews. 02.08.2023.
The production of batteries that are not afraid of frost and heat is promised to be established in Kaliningrad by 2030. In the world, such batteries are not yet installed on electric cars. “We already have them, we can show!” - they say in "Rener".
The Rener company, which is part of Rosatom , promises to master the mass production of batteries for electric vehicles based on solid-state power sources by the end of this decade. Autonews.ru figured out what these elements are, as well as where, in what quantity and for what cars they are going to be produced.
What are solid state batteries
The batteries of almost all modern electric vehicles consist of basic lithium-ion batteries - accumulators. Their operating voltage, due to the course of a chemical reaction, is always approximately 3.7 V. By assembling such batteries into a single unit, the manufacturer already receives a traction battery with a voltage of 400 or more volts, the required power and capacity. Azamat Bedanokov, Deputy General Director of Renera for scientific and technical activities, spoke about this at the presentation of the new production site.
Modern lithium-ion batteries use an electrolyte that is in the state of helium. This substance is sensitive to temperature and works best in conditions that are optimal for humans: at +25°C.
At low temperatures, such batteries lose part of their capacity, and a temperature drop below -30 ° C leads to the fact that the electric car simply loses its ability to move.
Overheating is even worse. If the performance of a frozen battery after it is warmed up returns in full, then overheating disables the battery forever. In this case, overheating is considered to be the temperature exceeding +50°C.
All this complicates the operation of electric vehicles in Russia. In severe frosts, they can be useless, and the danger of overheating, in particular, limits the charging speed: if you increase the power of the charging current, the battery will heat up and fail.
In solid-state batteries, the electrolyte is in a solid state, and its temperature operating range is much wider. This allows you not to be afraid of winter operation and speed up the charging time without fear of overheating.
Now there are no serial batteries for passenger electric vehicles with solid-state batteries in the world. However, their prospects have long been talked about a lot, and recently Nissan predicted that they would appear no later than 2028.
“We already have them, we can show them! True, these are laboratory samples, not yet serial. But we are working on a serial version and expect to release them in accordance with the global trend by 2030,” Bedankov said.
According to him, such batteries will be made at the company's gigafactory in Kaliningrad. Production there was originally designed to regularly improve the chemical composition of batteries and, in the future, replace the gel with a solid-state electrolyte.
The term “gigafactory” in relation to a battery and car battery factory was first used by Elon Musk in reference to a plant in Nevada. It refers to the capacity of the enterprise, calculated in the total capacity of all batteries produced in a year, which is measured in gigawatt hours (GWh).
The Nevada plant is now producing about 40 GWh of batteries per year. In 2022, Renera announced the construction of its gigafactory in the Kaliningrad region, which will reach full capacity only by 2030, but even then it will be able to produce only 4 GWh per year. This is enough for about 60,000 Moskvich 3e electric vehicles, which do not have the most capacious batteries.
The company says that it is now cooperating with all potential electric car manufacturers in Russia and that long-term contracts have already been signed with some. The company refused to talk about who exactly they are talking about, while they assured that the declared capacities of 4 GWh would definitely be loaded.
Now in Russia electric cars "Moskvich 3e" and Evolute are already being assembled. Almaz-Antey and KAMAZ concerns are developing their own electric cars in cooperation with the same Rosatom. If the Kaliningrad Avtotor announces the production of electric vehicles at its facilities, Rener promises to cooperate with it.
At the same time, the Kaliningrad plant will also produce batteries for stationary energy storage, for electric buses and even for battery construction equipment: in other words, cars will get even less.
There will be four gigafactories in Russia
Responding to a question from Autonews.ru, Alexander Kamashev, CEO of Rener, admitted that 4 GWh per year is not enough. According to the company's calculations, in 2022 alone, 600 GWh of batteries for electric vehicles were produced worldwide. By 2030, even according to the most pessimistic forecasts, this figure will grow by several times.
Therefore, Rener, according to Kamashev, will have not one, but several gigafactories. True, the decision on the construction of the next stages has not yet been made.
“According to our project, 4 GWh is the optimal capacity of one line. But there can be several such lines, both in one place and in different regions, ”explains Kamashev.
According to him, it is possible first to build a second line, and then two more such gigafactories. The total market for automotive traction batteries in 2030 was estimated by the company at 17.5 GWh per year. This is already enough for about 180-200 thousand Russian electric vehicles annually.
At the same time, Rener admits that other manufacturers of batteries for electric vehicles will soon appear in the country. And then the hypothetical need for four gigafactories will be satisfied by the forces of several manufacturers, and not just one Rener.
Benefits today - localization in a few years
Kamashev said that his company is in the final stage of signing a special investment contract (SPIC). This should make Renera the most profitable partner for electric vehicle manufacturers in Russia.
According to the current legislation, automakers have the right to sign SPICs themselves, having received benefits in the form of state support programs for the sale of their cars and undertaking obligations for their localization. So, if such electric vehicles are equipped with Rener batteries, which will have their own SPIK, then formally these battery packs will immediately be considered localized, although in reality they still have many imported components.
“We are committed to localization for the future and are already receiving the status of a local manufacturer of auto components,” Kamashev explained.
What exactly needs to be localized?
Batteries for electric vehicles based on Rener technology consist of separate unified modules, each of which contains 12 batteries of the so-called package type. Of all the above, only the final assembly of batteries has been localized at the site in Moscow, at the Polymetals plant.
The second site is already being prepared in the Moscow Technopolis, in fact, in the workshops of the former AZLK plant. This room is located in close proximity to the former Renault plant, where new Moskvich vehicles, including electric ones, are now being assembled from Chinese car kits. It is here that by the end of 2023 the production of not only prefabricated batteries, but also prefabricated modules with their own control and cooling systems will start.
At the same time, the basic batteries - the same package batteries - remain imported. The leaders of Rener avoid answering the question of who makes these batteries, obviously due to sanctions risks. But before the imposition of sanctions, the companies did not hide the fact that their partner was the Korean company Enertech International Inc., in which Rener bought a 49% stake in 2020 .
It is planned to localize the production of batteries in Russia from 2025, when the plant in Kaliningrad should start working. It is expected that its first stage will reach its full capacity by 2030.
How much is it
Initially, the cost of the Kaliningrad gigafactory was estimated at 26 billion rubles. However, later in the project documents twice as much amount appeared - 51 billion rubles, of which 19 billion rubles. should spend the state-owned company itself, 5 billion rubles. will allocate the Kaliningrad region and another 27 billion rubles. will be raised as loans.
As noted in the company, the amount of 51 billion rubles does appear in the documents. This amount was explained by the fact that it is not about expenses, but about spending limits, which Renera, as a state-owned enterprise, is obliged to indicate in documents for project approval. The exact amount that the plant will cost will be announced at the enterprise only after construction is completed. They added that in the mentioned 51 billion rubles. includes the cost of two small production sites in Moscow, as well as the creation of a Moscow research center.