The Chinese company CATL held a private press conference on its investment. Balázs Szilágyi, CATL’s Head of Public Affairs, gave details and answered journalists’ questions.
According to the briefing, the planned plant in Hungary is a EUR 7.34 billion (HUF 3,000 billion) investment with a capacity of 100 gigawatt-hours when fully completed. CATL has chosen Debrecen because of its easy access to raw materials for battery production, its long history of car manufacturing and its ideal location for suppliers and customers. In addition, the infrastructure in the Southern Economic Zone is excellent.
The next important phase is to obtain the building permit, which the company expects to be granted in the first half of the year, and then to start the civil engineering work at the beginning of the second half of the year, including the installation of the walls, the equipment, the commissioning and the full testing of the production line elements. Mass production could start in 2025.
CATL is determined to give priority to the recruitment of Hungarian workers. The factory could provide jobs for almost 10,000 Hungarians by the end of the decade and will also work with educational institutions to help build the skilled workforce of the future.
As for the factory’s energy needs, the first phase of the expansion will be 80 megawatts when completed, and with the third expansion, it will rise to around 240 megawatts, but for safety reasons, the investor expects a total capacity of 300 megawatts. They plan to meet a large part of their energy needs from renewable energy sources and will install solar panels on the roofs of all their buildings, reaching a total capacity of 18 megawatts. CATL would also participate in the construction of a greenfield solar farm, thus greening the energy supply of the whole area.
In terms of water demand, the factory will use an average of 3,378 cubic metres of water per day in the first phase, with the final figure being three times that, but a daily capacity of 18,000 cubic metres will be built to be on the safe side. More than 70 per cent of the significant water demand will be met by so-called grey water.
Balázs Szilágyi stressed that the investment would not only benefit the battery plant but also the surrounding area via carrying out the infrastructure developments (water, electricity, roads, railways) by the plant and the government and the Municipality of Debrecen.
The operation of the factory will have no significant noise impact on the population, Balázs Szilágyi said, adding that even standing directly next to the factory, there will be virtually no noise from work going on inside. While the battery factory will produce new products, it will also recycle tired energy blocks, as 99.3 per cent of the metals used in them can be recycled. The recycling of end-of-life batteries will take place in other parts of Europe in partnership with specialist European companies.