Greek lead-acid battery maker Sunlight Battery will become the largest lead-acid battery plant in Europe after an expansion funded by the European Investment Bank. The €12.5 million ($14 million) loan was disbursed on November 21.
Production capacity at Sunlight, which is one of the Olympia Group of companies, will increase from 2 million cells a year at the end of 2017 to 3.5 million by 2020, Olympia Group chief communications officer Anthi Trokoudi told BESB, ‘if the market fundamentals continue to be robust’.
Sunlight develops, produces and recycles batteries for forklifts, industrial vehicles, off-grid renewable energy systems and smart grids, telecoms and back-up rail signalling.
“The funded investment will result in a capacity exceeding 2.5 million motive power cells, but it is our intention to increase it further to 2.8 million motive power cells plus another 120,000 reserve power cells in 2019, with the prospect of further expansion of up to 3.5 million cells in 2020 onwards,” he said.
Sunlight exports its products to more than 100 countries but is seeking to grow its customer base geographically and with more OEMs, said Trokoudi.
“Sunlight has been strong in European markets over the years, especially in central and western European countries. In recent years we have seen ourselves growing rapidly in areas such as southeast Asia, US, Africa, Middle East and Latin America. We continue to pursue opportunities for further penetration in the mentioned territories while we strategically increase our positioning in Europe.”
Some of the investment will also go into research and development, including work on a new motive power solution to be revealed at the beginning of 2019 and in mid 2019, a new solution for the solar/reserve industry, Trokoudi said, without giving further details.
Sunlight also has a recycling arm in Greece, for which Trokoudi said a decision on expansion would be made some time next year.
“We see that lead-based products are going to remain the primary selection for customers in years to come due to certain advantages, ie financial and environmental,” Trokoudi said. “We also see other technologies taking part in the growing market, and this is reasonable.
“At Sunlight we believe the customer will select the best option to fit their needs. This is why we keep investing in both lead and lithium batteries since we want to keep up with customer requests and be at the forefront of technological developments.”
Sunlight Battery Solutions is based in Xanthia, northern Greece, where this May a fire broke out, causing five nearby villages to be evacuated.
“Following the investment, the plant would be the largest lead-acid battery manufacturing plant in Europe, thus allowing for substantial economies of scale,” said the EIB.
“Battery innovation is crucial for improving modern life and the European Investment Bank is pleased to support his new manufacturing and innovation investment by Sunlight,” said EIB vice president Jonathan Taylor.