Italvolt’s project for the gigafactory in the former Olivetti factory in Scarmagno, near Ivrea, could encounter the same problems that Britishvolt had. Although the project in Italy seems to be progressing so much that last week the company announced that it has concluded an agreement to license fast-charging lithium-ion battery technology from StoreDot.
Similarities and differences with Britishvolt
The two projects, that of Britishvolt and that of Italvolt, have more than one thing in common: first of all the founder, Lars Carlstrom, who however left the English company in controversy months ago; and then the value of the investment, with an overall estimated capex of 3.4 billion euros. On the plate, however, there are also some differences: Italvolt has maintained a very light structure to date – Britishvolt has about 300 employees and this makes the issue more difficult to manage from a social point of view. Furthermore, from a technological point of view, Italvolt has chosen to focus on a license, thanks to the agreement with StoreDot, for the production of batteries and this, on paper, makes industrial development a little faster.
The question of the funding needed to build the gigafactory remains open, the real crux of the whole matter, which could jeopardize the future of a very ambitious project. Italvolt wants to build one of the largest lithium-ion battery factories in Europe in Italy, with a production, when fully operational, of 45GWh. The timing defined by the program agreement signed last spring with the Piedmont Region and the Municipality of Ivrea provides for the start of work on the industrial site in 2024 and the actual production phase in 2025. “Italvolt is taking things seriously” , this is the comment that comes from the Piedmont Region, which is nonetheless looking at the project with interest.
Italvolt’s financial plan is not detailed, it foresees a series of sources, including public funds, bank loans and institutional investors (investment funds, private equity, venture capital). However, the Italvolt dossier was also presented to the Ministry of Economic Development on 11 July last to contribute to the assignment of any resources to the Pnrr or the Auto Fund.
One of the first stages of the project was the binding agreement, signed with Prelios Sgr in 2021, for the purchase of the one million square meter former Olivetti area in Scarmagno. In that first phase, the company’s intention was to obtain construction permits at the beginning of 2022, so as to be able to start work in the second half of the year. A deadline postponed by at least two years. However, the execution of the agreement was expected within 12 months of signing. Again, everything needs to be updated.