Eelpower’s 2023 China Battery Tour

Eelpower Visits Leading Battery Manufacturers Ahead of Major Procurement Round

Ahead of Eelpower’s next large-scale round of procurement, Chief Executive Mark Simon and Head of Commercial Operations Scarlett Di headed to China in May 2023 to visit four potential battery suppliers. As they travelled from Shenzhen in the south up to Shanghai, they were delighted by the warm welcome they received.

Speaking to product and design leads on the front line of battery storage development, Mark and Scarlett were impressed by the second and third generation technologies on display in this rapidly expanding market. The development of battery energy storage systems (BESS) technology is accelerating at speed; China is at the cutting edge of cell, module and stationary storage, building GWh capacity rapidly and promising much lower prices for these assets by 2025.

The UK is a leader in the global deployment of BESS and Eelpower is a leading innovator within this space, with a successful track record as one of the longest standing owners of BESS in Great Britain. Since Eelpower was founded in 2017, it has helped to develop the most dynamic and flexible energy market in the world. To date, the company has energised over 90MW battery energy storage systems across the UK and has another three sites under construction, which will bring total operating capacity to 240MW by the autumn of 2023.

As Eelpower scales up and looks to procure more batteries from Chinese manufacturers, the firm is focused on finding those suppliers with the best technologies and those who implement best practice. As Chief Executive Mark Simon says: “You can have the best battery technology in the world but that is irrelevant if they cannot be delivered safely and effectively. Batteries are large and complex assets to enable effectively – this is not “plug and play”. Commissioning and asset management needs to be undertaken in close collaboration with, and leadership from, the design and manufacturer engineers that really understand them.”  Below is a summary of the companies that Mark and Scarlett visited.

BYD

Founded in 1995 by Wang Chuanfu, BYD (Build Your Dreams) is a publicly listed Chinese manufacturer headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong, with over 30 industrial plants across six continents. The company makes cars, buses, e-bikes, trucks, forklifts, solar panels and rechargeable batteries. Eelpower has a strong and long-standing relationship of over 13 years with BYD, installing their first solar panels and their first battery in Britain. BYD has conducted a huge amount of work on fulfilling its ESG commitments, including an in-depth onsite audit conducted by European accreditation and audit body Achilles. The company boasts full vertical integration, from the sourcing of raw materials to the production and delivery of batteries.

Envision

Envision was founded by Lei Zhang in 2007 and has displayed an impressive drive and ambition in its short life. Already a global leader in the production of wind turbines, Envision completed a merger with AESC in 2019, adding 50 years of Japanese cell manufacturing to its strengths and so establishing itself as a powerful vertically integrated BESS manufacturer. The company now has 60GWh of battery factory capacity, expanding to 300 GWh by 2026. Its next flagship project in the UK is the 150MW two hour Sembcorp energy storage system at Wilton International on Teesside.

Eelpower visiting Envision Headquarters in Shanghai

CSI Solar Co

The Canadian company Canadian Solar was founded by Dr. Shawn Qu in 2001 and is listed on Nasdaq. The company is one of the largest providers of solar PV, energy solutions and power plants and has delivered over 90 GW of solar modules to thousands of customers in over 160 countries. By the end of Q1 2024, Canadian Solar’s majority-owned subsidiary CSI Solar Co Ltd. intends to reach 50 GW of ingot, 50 GW of wafer, 60 GW of cell and 75 GW of module capacity.

Shanghai Electric Gotion New Energy Technology Co Ltd

Shanghai Electric Gotion New Energy Technology Co Ltd is a joint venture between the state-owned utility for China’s largest city and a Chinese battery enterprise closely linked to Volkswagen AG. This business specialises in technology research and development, engineering application and market development of electrochemical energy storage services, including cells and energy storage systems. The company has two major production bases: the Nantong plant produces large-scale lithium-ion battery energy storage systems with a planned annual output of 10 GWh and their Kunshan facility has an annual output of 500 MWh. The firm sources raw materials from Sichuan, Jiangxi and Indonesia and has a track record in shipping batteries at scale for EV and stationary storage purposes. 

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

ESG is central to Eelpower’s procurement strategy and, in 2023, the company is focused on the following issues:

  1. Keeping workers and the public safe;
  2. Ethical working practices, and
  3. Effective waste and emissions management.

Commissioning imported batteries is complex. A strong, qualified, locally-based-in-country team of engineers is needed to balance the batteries and to make sure they are handled with care and tuned to operate efficiently. The best manufacturers and suppliers are those companies who are able to provide this capability.

During the visit to China, Scarlett was able to emphasise that Eelpower will only work with organisations who can demonstrate the highest standards in relation to the issues above. This includes every stage of the supply chain, from the sourcing of raw materials to the commissioning and operation of the batteries, especially evidencing the strict avoidance of the use of forced labour. Eelpower will continue to work with its suppliers in China to ensure their ongoing commitment to meeting our ESG requirements in both manufacturing in China and engineering work undertaken in country, and to gain maximum reassurance on the security and integrity of our batteries and their operational data and control.  

Mark and Scarlett are very grateful to their Chinese hosts for their hospitality, time and attention during their visit and look forward to doing business with them in the years to come.

Eelpower visiting the new BYD factory in Nanning