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UPDATE 1-Northvolt to invest $200 mln in new Polish battery plant

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STOCKHOLM, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Swedish lithium-ion battery maker Northvolt said on Friday it will invest $200 million in a new energy storage systems factory in Gdansk, Poland.

China currently hosts roughly 80% of the world’s lithium-ion cell production, but with demand expected to soar over the next decade Europe’s capacity is set to expand quickly.

“Securing battery cell manufacturing capacity in Europe is key for its industrial future, but what is equally critical is the industrial capacity for integrating cells into real-world solutions,” Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson said in a statement.

“It is this that the new factory will deliver — sophisticated, sustainable energy storage systems to support the transformation of Europe’s electricity grid and its industry.”

Lithium-ion batteries and related products have become some of Poland’s most important exports, with companies such as LG Chem, SK Group and Umicore choosing the country for plants.

“Poland has become a force in the production of lithium-ion batteries and we have another example of this type of investment,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.

The new 50,000-square-metre factory will be established in two stages with an initial output of 5 gigawatt hours (GWh) and production expected to start in 2022.

The firm said the new plant, including a new engineering research and development centre set up in conjunction, would create 500 new jobs in the Gdansk region. (Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom in Stockholm; Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz in Warsaw; editing by Niklas Pollard and Jason Neely)

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