Another Step Towards Townsville’s Battery “Gigafactory”

Townsville battery factory

Magnis Energy Technologies has announced the finalised Townsville Battery Manufacturing Plant Feasibility Study has been submitted to the Queensland Government.

Back in 2017, a consortium led by Magnis inked an agreement with Queensland’s Townsville City Council to delve into the possibility of constructing of  major battery manufacturing facility in the region. Originally it was to have an annual storage production capacity of 15GWh, but that appears to have been bumped up to 18GWh.

If all that 18GWh of annual production went towards home solar batteries (which it won’t be), it would be the equivalent to the total storage capacity of around 1.28 million Tesla Powerwall 2 units.

The proposed site for the project is Lansdown Station near Woodstock; approximately 40 kilometres south of Townsville’s CBD.

The project’s official name is Imperium3 Townsville  (iM3TSV). Aside from Magnis, the other members of the iM3TSV consortium are C4V LLC New York and Boston Energy and Innovation (BEI).

In June last year, formal agreements to fast-track the project were signed and the project also received a $3.1 million grant from the Queensland Government to support the development of a feasibility study to determine financial viability and a detailed engineering plan.

3 x 6GWh Stages Recommended

That study has recommended phasing the project over 3 stages of 6 GWhs each, for a total nominal capacity of 18 GWh annually. This approach will reduce upfront capital expenditure to $1.12B for the first stage (around $940M to $960M for subsequent stages) and allow for project expansion to occur in line with technology and market developments.

“The cost for stage 1 is slightly higher than stages 2 and 3, due to the need for iM3TSV to contribute to the cost of extending some trunk infrastructure services to the site,” says Magnis, which also states the study “demonstrated sound financial viability on a project basis with an NPV of A$2.55 Billion and 21% IRR.”

The project’s intended timeline indicates construction of the first stage would commence in Q3 2020 and be completed by the end of Q3 2022. Approximately 1150 direct jobs would be created with all three stages completed and the facility operating at full capacity.

32700 Cells Selected

iM3TSV has selected a cylindrical 32700 form factor for the battery cells to be produced at the factory, which Magnis says is better suited to high volume manufacturing. 32700 refers to the cell’s physical size – diameter of the cell is 32mm and the height (or length) is 70mm. Magnis states the 32700 also offers  improvements in performance and cost while still maintaining flexibility in the range of applications for its use – for example, electric vehicles or residential solar energy storage systems.

Over the next few months, a development application for iM3TSV will be prepared and then submitted to Townsville City Council. The consortium will also be chasing funding with the assistance of project financial adviser NAB.

iM3TSV will also commence battery cell production testing in a commercial setting at equipment vendor facilities, which include Durr Megtec and Siemens.

“iM3 battery cells will be provided to customers for independent evaluation and qualification as a precursor to procuring offtake contracts,” says Magnis.

The full announcement can be viewed here.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill is pretty excited about iM3TSV, stating back in April the plant would charge Townsville’s economy for decades.

“This has the potential to completely transform the city’s manufacturing industries and create thousands of spin-off jobs in a rapidly growing sector.”

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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