The first large production plant in Germany for cathode materials as a basic battery material went into operation at BASF in Schwarzheide on Thursday. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) emphasized the importance of the location in Lusatia at the opening. A certain proportion of the production must be made domestic in Europe. It is about economic security policy, independence and robustness.
At the energy company Leag, he symbolically laid a piece of hydrogen pipeline for the new, innovative storage power plant at the Jänschwalde power plant site. The Federal Minister of Economics sees progress on one of his favorite topics: Green energies as a location advantage - and that in the coal region of Lusatia. In addition to discussions and exchanges, there were also protests.
The plant in Schwarzheide is the second largest factory of its kind in Europe. The Lusatian production site for battery materials is part of a multi-stage investment plan to develop the European value chain for electric vehicles.
At the inauguration, Habeck emphasized the importance of the location in Lusatia. A certain proportion of the production has to be made domestic in Europe, he said. It is about economic security policy, independence and robustness. "Independence is being created here in Schwarzheide, for Europe," said the Green politician at the start. The BASF project increases Germany's sovereignty along the value chain.
Batteries for 400,000 electric cars
In the factory, for which BASF has invested several hundred million euros at the site, materials for the cathode side of lithium-ion batteries for around 400,000 electric cars can be produced annually in the future. Mass production is scheduled to start in 2025. In addition to Habeck, BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller, Vice President of the EU Commission Maros Šefčovič and Brandenburg Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) attended the opening.
Šefčovič emphasized the importance of creating a competitive and sustainable value chain for battery cell manufacturing in Europe. The EU battery market is growing very fast. There will be a drastically increasing demand for batteries - both for mobility and for storage. And competitors are entering the market, he pointed out.
The Federal Ministry of Economics is funding the system together with the state of Brandenburg with a total of around 175 million euros. Around 150 new jobs were created. The inauguration was also the start of a battery recycling plant from BASF. From 2024, disused battery cells will be prepared there for raw material recovery. The group wants to close the cycle in the European battery value chain.
Good atmosphere in Jänschwalde
Habeck was with Leag for the second time within a few months. The atmosphere at the Jänschwalde power plant site was good and constructive. The Green Party politician conceded that the debate about an early exit from coal had been quite controversial in recent months. But he can see how far the plans at Leag to switch to renewable energies and future innovative storage power plants have progressed. "That's what we need now."
On this occasion, Habeck explained that he saw a significant difference between the Rhenish mining area, with a planned exit from coal in 2030, and Lusatia, where something was only being developed and built up. "And then we will see what effects this has on the prospects for lignite-fired power generation."
He assured Leag of his "full political support" for the conversion of its lignite-fired power plant in Jänschwalde into an innovative storage power plant. This means, among other things, the assignment in Brussels to the EU Commission for the modification of subsidies or the acceleration of planning. Leag board member Thorsten Kramer emphasized that he felt supported by the Federal Ministry.
The largest East German electricity producer is driving forward plans for the construction of hydrogen-capable gas-fired power plants and pure hydrogen power plants at its energy locations. Leag plans to start operating the innovation power plant in Jänschwalde in the first quarter of 2029. In the first step, hydrogen would be supplied as an admixture to natural gas.