GLOBAL POWER Synergy (GPSC), a subsidiary of PTT, plans to set up a factory in Thailand next year to make batteries for electric vehicles, PTT president and chief executive officer Tevin Vongvanich said recently.
He said the company’s board visited a battery plant in the US city of Boston last week operated by 24M Technologies Co, a start-up business in which GPSC holds an 18-per-cent stake. The plant produces lithium-ion batteries, using technology that change electrolytes from liquid to semi-solid state, which reduces battery size and speed up the production process. Production costs are also lower than for normal batteries.
GPSC signed an agreement with 24M Technologies for the copyright to produce lithium-ion batteries in Thailand and Asean countries to be used as backup storage for the energy grid, which will support alternative energy such as wind and solar.
“We plan to build a lithium-ion battery plant in Thailand next year after completing a marketing study on the demand for them while also undertaking an engineering design for the plant,” Tevin said.
Currently, 24M Technologies’ operation in Boston is a prototype plant to prove that lithium-ion batteries can produced for commercial use.
However, when GPSC needs to produce at a large scale, it will need to design a plant of appropriate size. The company also has to do a cost analysis and come up with a business model before making a major investment in this technology, he said.
The company’s board also met with two electric-vehicle manufacturers in the United States last week. They discussed the demand for backup EV batteries with General Motors and Tesla Inc.
GM and Tesla are leaders in the production of EVs for the US and European markets. They are also expanding into the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand.
Both US companies are also interested in expanding their investment in Asean, and PTT suggested they consider Thailand, as the government is promoting investment in clean-energy business especially electric vehicles, Tevin said.
“We believed that electric vehicles are a new technology that will enter Thailand, and as a result we are strongly interested in studying this technology as a future investment,” he said.