Battery makers turn northern French region into ‘electric valley’

Battery makers are turning northern France into an “electric valley” as the region attracts manufacturers from all over the world, keen to benefit from its expertise in the sector. The Hauts-de-France region, which includes the cities of Lille and Amiens, has become a hub for battery production, with leading companies such as Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, and Korean company LG Chem setting up factories in the area.

The region has invested heavily in research and development in recent years, and the French government has pledged €1.5bn ($1.8bn) to support the industry. The investment is part of a wider government initiative to reduce France’s reliance on fossil fuels and promote electric vehicles.

The growth of the electric vehicle market has led to a surge in demand for batteries, with manufacturers racing to develop cheaper and more efficient technologies. Companies are also looking to reduce their carbon footprint, with some committing to using only renewable energy sources in their factories.

The “electric valley” is also attracting start-ups and smaller companies, with some using the region as a base to develop new battery technologies. One such company is Forsee Power, which produces batteries for electric buses and trains. The company recently received €20m ($24m) in funding from the European Investment Bank to expand its operations.

The growth of the battery industry in northern France has also created jobs, with the sector employing around 10,000 people in the region. This is expected to rise in the coming years, as more companies move into the area.

The “electric valley” has also been praised for its sustainability efforts, with some companies using recycled materials in their battery production. The region has also been recognised for its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, with Lille being named the 2020 European Green Capital.

However, there are concerns about the environmental impact of battery production, particularly when it comes to the mining of raw materials such as lithium and cobalt. Some companies are working to address these concerns, with Saft committing to sourcing materials from sustainable sources.

Despite these challenges, the “electric valley” is expected to continue to grow and play a key role in the transition to a more sustainable future. With its expertise, investment and commitment to sustainability, the region is well placed to become a global leader in battery production.

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