The Generalitat has begun the process of purchasing a plot of almost 16,000 m2 in Parc Sagunt I for the construction of a Vocational Training center, called Campus Battery, in which the professionals of the future gigafactory of battery cells will be trained. PowerCo, a subsidiary of Volkswagen. The land has an estimated price of about 2.3 million. This was stated by the President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, during his visit to the manufacturing plant for battery cells for electric vehicles that PowerCo has in Salzgitter (Germany), which is in charge of building the gigafactory in Sagunto.
Puig has met with the CEO of PowerCo, Frank Blome, and other executives of the firm to discuss the next steps in the start-up of the Valencian plant, which is expected to generate 3,000 direct jobs and up to 15,000 indirect ones. Blome has responded to the media that are considering the possibility of manufacturing batteries for other sectors: “The cells are suitable for cars, but also to store energy and it is a segment that is fixed.” The cell manufacturing technique for electric vehicle batteries is the same as that for stationary batteries (an “extremely interesting segment” for the company, he added), to store, for example, energy from a photovoltaic plant. The multinational does not rule out also serving batteries for the Ford plant in Almussafes.
The CEO of PowerCo has stressed that the company is “absolutely” open to building battery cells for other uses of renewable energy storage, beyond electric vehicles. In this sense, he has explained that when battery production starts, which is scheduled to start in 2026, there will be a period of time for approvals and tests before supplying vehicles “up to one year”, and that while cells can be allocated from batteries to stationary storage.
“We have demand for that” and some actors have shown interest. This will take place soon, we will make some decisions and we will make them public ”, she has advanced.
In the meeting in which Blome has indicated that the company still cannot specify when the construction works in Sagunto will start because “there are still certain bureaucratic issues” to be resolved, although he has pointed out that it will be this year, it will be announced within “a short time ” and has expressed the “great joy” to see how the machines have already begun to work on the ground.
On the other hand, Volkswagen does not rule out submitting to the second call for the Strategic Project for the Recovery and Economic Transformation of the Electric and Connected Vehicle (Perte VEC), while it will continue to “explore additional avenues” of aid through regional incentives, according to company executives have pointed out in the framework of an institutional visit.
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Puig, and the Ministers of Economy, Rafael Climent; Treasury, Arcadi Spain, and Territorial Policy, Rebeca Torró, have come to know the first Volkswagen factory that adapts to the production of battery cells and also the Volkswagen training center in Salzgitter, one of the 30 centers that are training, in total, 15,000 students. The training focuses on Information Technologies, Chemistry and electronic engineering, among others.
Following this trail, the public vocational training center that will be installed in Sagunto will have about 400 students with a curricular design adapted to the needs of PowerCo, with training in the fields of electricity and electronics, installation and maintenance and chemistry, has detailed the ‘ president’.
Volkswagen executives have indicated that the German worker training and selection process will be transferred to Sagunto and that the company will use “cognitive and practical selection processes” to find the best professionals.
They have also highlighted that one of the factors that made the group opt for Sagunto were the Valencian universities and they have advanced that conversations will be held with them for the development of the training process, with the possibility of incorporating university professors to the same.
Urbanization project underway
On the other hand, Ximo Puig has explained the “advances” in the development of infrastructures for the gigafactory project. He has indicated that “the Parc Sagunt II urbanization project is already being drafted”, which will involve an investment of more than 200 million euros and whose works will be awarded in mid-May 2023, with an execution period of 24 months, although it may be put into service as the works progress to facilitate the work of PowerCo.
In addition, the President of the Generalitat has also reported that the agronomic transformation works have just been awarded to meet the requirements of the PowerCo plot, in a contract of 6.9 million to Grupo Bertolín, which began on January 12 with a lead time of three months.
In the same way, he has stated that the Generalitat will shortly put out to tender the works on the access road to the PowerCo plot: it will be the connection between the CV-309 and the V-23, “the road that will connect Parc Sagunt II with Parc Sagunt I and the port”. This will mean an investment of 50 million and the forecast is for it to be awarded in mid-May and available in June 2024.