After six years of research and development, energy service provider Alevo Group announced plans for its 2,000-acre manufacturing facility in Concord at a launch ceremony Tuesday.
Alevo is repurposing the 3.5 million-square-foot building, previously the Philip Morris USA Industrial Campus for tobacco products, to handle the production of its “utility grade rechargeable batteries.”
Company representatives said the facility has the potential to create 6,000 new jobs, 500 of which will be filled within the next year, and 2,500 will be filled within the next three years.
N.C. Secretary of Commerce Sharon Allred Decker spoke at the event, and said she had received countless calls about Alevo’s plans since it acquired the building.
“All I know is they’re committing to a thousand plus jobs, in fact, thousands of jobs. Do we need to know anything else?” she said was her answer to every call.
Decker said North Carolina is a great place for Alevo’s manufacturing facility because the state produces a lot of college and university graduates in the engineering field.
The company is focused on hiring engineers at this point, but that won’t be the case for long, said COO Anthony Walsh the morning of the event.
“Because we’re in the launch phase, we’re basically in what I call the engineering side,” said Walsh. “Once we get close to equipment, then
we’ll be looking for the manufacturing side, which will attract a wider base of people. As you roll this place out, the scope of the hiring broadens.”
Alevo representatives said the first products will be ready for shipping in July.
Jostein Eikeland, Alevo’s founder and chief executive officer, said the company had considered the Concord site since first looking at it in 2011. Victory Industrial Park Inc. secured the site for $68.5 million in April this year, and Alevo, an affiliated company, is the main tenant, according to its website.
Walsh said the company chose the location for its size: He said it was difficult to find existing large-scale facilities in the U.S.
N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory closed out the all-day event and conducted the official ribbon cutting ceremony.
The batteries are housed inside 40-foot long shipping containers called GridBanks, which are used to connect the batteries to electrical grids. The batteries are non-flammable and non-combustible, and testing has indicated a lifetime of more than 40,000 charging cycles.
“So what we bring to the market is a 20-year warranty, as well as insurance, so all the financial risk and operation of (the GridBanks) is taken out,” Eikeland said.
Each GridBank is capable of delivering 2 megawatts of power, which is comparable to one wind turbine, and is able to store energy from a variety of pow
er suppliers, such as solar panels, coal-fired plants and nuclear plants.
Walsh described Alevo as a “service provider more than a battery supplier” because it will also determine the best location
s for GridBanks using its Alevo Analytics software. He said this is what differentiates Alevo from other companies in the battery production market.
The plant’s first assembly line will be commissioned at the beginning of next year, and the company hopes to produce 480 GridBanks in its first year of operation, Alevo President Jean-Claude Beney said at the event. He said the plant has the potential to produce 16,000 GridBanks a year at its maximum production capacity.
All Phillip Morris manufacturing equipment has been removed from the facility and Alevo indicated that the building will require very little modification prior to moving in its own equipment, which it hopes to start doing within the next couple months.
Eikeland said the facility has plenty of space for its current operation plans, but that he has already talked to Concord officials about expansion.