Energy Storage of the Future

BASQUE CEO standing and posing in front of compant logo

Basquevolt, SA has its sights set on one goal – to develop the humblest of devices, the battery, into the high energy density storage system of the future. Based in the province of Alava in the Basque region of Spain, Basquevolt is our Most Innovative Lithium Batteries Manufacturer 2023. We take a look at the company in more detail with company CEO, Francisco Carranza.

In 1800, Alessandro Volta came up with the idea for the first battery. At that time he couldn’t have imagined the vast number of applications we use batteries for today. Since then the battery has been the subject of a staggering number of reinventions and almost constant research, much of it directed towards making batteries last longer, or be more compact.

In recent years, our focus on the need to store large quantities of energy has sharpened. The rise in popularity of electric vehicles, the need to phase out fossil fuels and rising energy costs all cause us to ponder how it will be possible to serve all our energy needs with renewables. Solar and wind-generated electricity are all well and good as long as it’s sunny or windy – but what happens when it’s not?

Despite the significant progress made in battery technology over recent decades, modern batteries are still not capable of storing enough energy to fuel the many appliances we need them for. For now, the cost of producing batteries for larger applications often remains prohibitive.

Francisco tells us, “By the end of the decade, we need more affordable, more sustainable and more energy-efficient batteries. To make that happen, we need significant cost reduction and much higher efficiency in the use of raw materials. If not, wider electrification in sectors like passenger cars, heavy-duty vehicles, marine or aviation will not happen, in spite of a regulatory framework going in that direction.”

Launched with one clear purpose, Basquevolt is working to accelerate Europe’s transition towards a fully electric and sustainable society. Developing competitive solid-state battery technology aimed at the electric vehicle, heavy transport, renewable energy, and electronic device sectors, the company’s focus is on developing affordable, zero-emissions applications for everyone.

 “We have very ambitious goals,” Francisco says. “In recent decades, researchers all over the world have been working on solid-state battery technologies. We know that new technology will significantly increase the amount of energy that could be stored. But despite progress made with the materials, by companies in China and the United States, nobody has been able to prove the feasibility of mass market industrialisation. We founded Basquevolt to do exactly that. To take the work done by the best battery researchers and successfully industrialise a new generation of batteries with the most innovative materials.”

Considering their mass market industrialisation potential, Basquevolt chose to focus on polymer-based solid electrolytes. Considered by many as the perfect material for mass-market applications, this family of electrolytes has many advantages. They’re easy to produce, requiring no high temperatures or high-pressure environments and presenting no major safety risks. The company’s next-generation solid-state lithium batteries will make possible the deployment of electric transportation, stationary energy storage, and advanced portable devices.

Basquevolt attributes much of its success so far to more than 10 years of research done by Professor Michel Armand and CIC energiGUNE, one of the top three battery and energy storage research centres in Europe. Founded in 2011, CIC energiGUNE is a strategic initiative of the Basque government. Also based in Alava, CIC energiGUNE is a member of the Basque Research & Technology Alliance and works in collaboration with universities, research centres and companies throughout the region. Understanding the significance of the circular economy on the energy of the future, the collective explores and champions concepts such as ‘design for recycling’. Selecting materials based on not only their in-life capability but also on their ability to recycle them is seen as the key to tackling many current environmental challenges.

Francisco explains some of the current challenges the industry is facing: “Large global and traditional companies dominate the automotive sector, most of them created more than a century ago. They base their know-how and culture on the principle that a successful business lies in high product quality, strong cost-cutting policies, and always delivering on time. In that industrial culture, any radical change is seen as a threat and not as an opportunity. As a consequence, in the automotive electrification race, most of the European traditional players are lagging behind. Newcomers from places like California and China react faster when facing these windows of opportunity. They’re racing ahead. At Basquevolt, we want to help speed up progress in this area for European industry to ensure that the transport sector remains a strong and viable economic pillar of the region.”

As a young, purpose-driven company, Basquevolt is challenging traditional thinking to champion the benefits of new technology. By establishing partnerships, the company aims to show that progress need not be expensive and difficult. Backed by shareholders and major companies in the energy and automotive sectors and benefitting from European Union funding, Basquevolt is committed to finding solutions to solve the energy challenges we are facing now and those we are sure to face in the future.

With liquid electrolyte lithium batteries almost at the limit of their usefulness, Basquevolt’s immediate objective is the development of prototype solid-state cells leading to a pilot production phase in 2025. It plans to start full production of solid-state batteries in 2027. Supported by an investment of over 700 million euros, the project will generate an estimated 800 direct jobs in the region. 

Francisco says, “Renewable energy and wider electrification can solve our energy transition challenges because they are cheaper than fossils, cleaner than fossils, and enhance energy security and geopolitical independence. We need to adapt and act during this window of opportunity. In moments of important technology and social changes, there are opportunities for newcomers such as Basquevolt to enter the market.”

For business enquiries, contact Francisco Carranza from BASQUEVOLT, S.A.on their website – www.basquevolt.com