Buenos Aires — YPF Tec, the technology arm of Argentina’s majority state-owned energy company YPF (YPF), has announced that its lithium battery factory will begin operations in April, and that it has struck a deal with mining company Livent, which will supply it with the lithium to produce the battery cells.
The plant, the first of its kind in Latin America, is located in La Plata, in Argentina’s Buenos Aires province.
The plant, called UNILIB, was completed last year following an agreement with the Universidad Nacional de la Plata, and is the first in Latin America that will produce lithium battery cells, and which will be used for stationary batteries for energy storage.
According to Livent, which has operated in Argentina since the 1990s, it seeks to “drive the energy matrix transition in Argentina toward clean energy” through the development and local production of ion-lithium batteries.
“It is important for us to have the lithium carbonate to make an enterprise that has involved more than 12 years of scientific research a reality,” Roberto Salvarezza, president of Y-TEC, said.
YPF places its bets on lithium
This is not the first nor the only move by YPF into the lithium industry. Mainly dedicated to the electric power and hydrocarbon sector, the company is interested in becoming another player in the lithium industry in Argentina, which is seen growing exponentially in the coming years.
One such move in that direction was the incorporation of YPF Lithium and the association agreement with the Catamarca provincial company CAMYEN “for the development of a lithium exploratory project in an area of 49,400 acres located in the Fiambalá area, in the Argentine department of Tinogasta.
YPF-Tec told Bloomberg Línea that the company’s objective is for the Catamarca project to supply lithium to the UNILIB plant. Until that time, however, Livent will be in charge of the supply.
The YPF-Tec plant was scheduled to start up in December., but due to delays in the delivery of equipment, it was postponed until April, when the plant will begin producing battery cells.
According to the company, the plant will begin operations start-up will be made with the imported raw material required by the equipment manufacturer, and then with lithium carbonate to be supplied by Livent after the agreement reached this week.
The plant will then begin pilot projects to test the batteries, for stationary use and energy storage in small solar parks.
One of these pilot projects is the solar park of Isla Paulino, in the town of Berisso, where electricity will be generated by a solar park together with the lithium batteries. Later, it will be tested in mobility applications and will also be supplied to the army for mobile radars, replacing lead batteries.