Wallonia is establishing itself on the international stage by attracting major investment in the electric battery sector. The Walloon government recently selected seven projects, including that of Chinese company Nuode, to develop an innovative battery ecosystem.
These projects include Nuode's colossal 500 million euro investment in a plant to produce copper foil for the Li-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. This article explores the details of this strategic initiative and its impact on the local economy.
The Walloon context in the race for innovation
Unlike other European regions, which are attracting massive investment in the battery sector, Wallonia's approach focuses on innovation rather than quantity of funding. The public Wallonie Entreprendre fund launched a call for projects last April, raising 50 million euros to create a battery ecosystem. Rather than competing with gigafactories, Wallonia is focusing on creating added value by concentrating on recycling and the manufacture of battery components.
The selected projects and Nuode's investment
Seven projects were selected following six months of evaluation, representing a total investment of 713 million euros and the creation of 613 direct jobs. The most significant project is that of Nuode, a listed Chinese company which plans to invest 500 million euros in the construction of a copper foil production plant. This essential component is used to manufacture Li-ion batteries for electric vehicles. The plant will have an annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes and could create 510 jobs, including 450 local jobs.
Challenges and opportunities
Before granting financial aid to Nuode, Wallonia put in place federal government guarantees, following a mechanism similar to foreign investment screening in Europe. The region must now involve a series of investors, including the SFPI, to provide Nuode with 120 million in public funding. This strategic project places Wallonia on the map of the electric battery industry, paving the way for an innovative ecosystem.
The other selected projects
Other notable projects in addition to Nuode include Prayon, a Belgian company targeting the growing Li-ion battery market. Prayon plans to build a polyphosphoric acid production unit, with an investment of 25 million euros and the creation of 15 jobs. Recycling initiatives such as Revatech and EnviroBelgium, as well as start-ups such as Octave and Watt4Ever, complete the ecosystem with a focus on battery reconditioning and recycling.
A strategic choice for Wallonia
Wallonia's strategic decision to position itself in the value-added chain for electric batteries seems to be paying off, with the attraction of significant investments, notably that of Nuode. This project, combined with other innovative initiatives, reinforces Wallonia as a centre of excellence in the electric battery sector, contributing to the energy transition and the creation of sustainable jobs. The future is looking bright for the region, which continues to play a key role in the growth of the electric battery industry in Europe.