By Eurasia Network – April 18, 2021

View on a lithium-ion battery made by Renera LLC – Photo credits : Rosatom, press release.

Renera LLC, a subsidiary of Rosatom, has bought 49% of the South Korean manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries Enertech International, announced the Russian state nuclear corporation in a press release.

Founded in 2001, Enertech International is a manufacturer of electrodes, lithium-ion storage cells, energy storage systems of various capacities. It has been producing batteries for electric vehicles since 2018.

Based in Moscow, Renera LLC was registered in September 2011. Its main activities are the Research, development and production of electric accumulators, storage batteries and cathode material.

The agreement also covers the creation in Russia of a factory of lithium-ion cells and energy storage systems. Its production capacity should be at least 2 GW/h by 2030. The first stage is scheduled to be launched in 2025. Lithium-ion batteries to be produced in Russia will supply electric buses, electric vehicles, specific equipment and the Russian power grid complex.

The Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom now wants to develop non-nuclear industries, to diversify the technology skills of its corporate structure. Energy storage systems are now in demand in the new technology global market. Having its own production capacities is a valuable assets in a context of commercial wars and scarcity of batteries offer in face of growing global demand.

The merger with a technology partner is a strategically important step for the development of Rosatom’s business in the energy storage segment. This will increase production capacity, significantly enhance our skills and developments in the field of lithium-ion batteries, and also open up access to foreign markets. In addition, the localization of production in Russia means not only new technologies and products, but also new jobs” said Natalya Nikipelova, CEO of TVEL, the main shareholder of Renera LLC.

TVEL is a Russian nuclear fuel cycle company headquartered in Moscow. It works mainly in uranium enrichment and the production of nuclear fuel. TVEL is controlled by the Russian state corporation Rosatom.

Batteries for the national market

Lithium-ion batteries are an advanced technology for energy storage. Thanks to the combination of affordable prices and high technical solutions, such batteries have become the main component of the development of a new transport industry – electric vehicles and electric buses. The market for rechargeable batteries, particularly for lithium-ion batteries, is growing rapidly due to its declining cost and efficiency advantages over other rechargeable battery types.

The creation of a large battery production plant in Russia will be a landmark event for the national automotive industry. Russian companies are now working on the development of the hybrid and electric vehicles market.

The Russian Ministry of Industry had announced in November 2019 the start of serial production of the first Russian electric car Zetta in Q1 2020. Due to financial issues and the Covid-19 pandemics, the project was delayed to a new start before the end of 2021, announced the Ministry of Industry in March 2021. However, the patent of the Zetta was officially registered on January 31, 2020 in the base of the Russian Federal Institute of Industrial Property.

Opening a manufacture plant of lithium-ion batteries in Russia will allow to reduce dependence on foreign imports, to decrease commercial-supplying risks and, as a result, reducing the cost of final products, can become an incentive for the growth of production and widespread distribution of Russian electric transport. Such a factory already exists in Russia, with the Liotech group of companies, as explained below.

Along with transport, the demand for energy storage systems is growing in the power industry. According to Rusnano Group, the potential volume of the Russian energy storage systems market is 10 – 15 GW by 2030. This represents more than a tenfold increase over current levels. This is stated in the review of the Information and Analytical Center “New Energy“, prepared at the initiative of the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs (FIOP) of the RUSNANO Group.

Another industrial player after Liotech

Russia is already a player of the lithium-ion batteries market with the partnership between the tech corporation Rusnano and the Russian manufacturer Liotech, launched in 2011 and based in the Novosibirsk region. The production capacity of the company is more than 1 GWh per year. The company was initially a joint project between Rusnano and the Chinese Thunder Sky Group. The total investment amounted to more than RUB 13.5 billion (149 million EUR). When the Chinese partner left the project in 2013, Liotech was facing low demand for lithium-ion batteries. Between 2016 and October 2018 the company Liotech was under bankruptcy proceedings but a settlement agreement could be reached with creditors. Now the situation has improved as the revenue of Liotech amounted to 400 million rubles in 2019 (4.4 million euros). Liotech laso became a full subsidiary of the Russian corporation Rusnano in 2016 and entered into partnership with Russian power operator Rossetti in October 2020. Legally the brand “Liotech” is represented by the companies Liotech-Innovatsiy LLC and Litecho LLC, both controlled by Rusnano.

Liotech Innovatsiy supplies batteries for Russian urban electric transport. One of its clients until February 2020 was the Trolza trolleybus manufacture plant based in the Saratov oblast, where Liotech products are used for trolleybuses with an autonomous running reserve.

In addition, Liotech Innovatsiy makes and sells batteries and storage equipment to the Russian energy market. Hevel Group, the Russian producer of solar cells, has launched a hybrid power plant using this technology. The plant uses storage cells for an energy storage unit with a capacity of 300 kWh produced by Liotech.

This partnership between Rosatom and Enertech International is a smart move as it strengthens the Russian industrial capacities in the field of lithium-ion batteries.

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