Total energy’s stated ambition is to become the responsible energy major. The company acquired Saft in 2016, a specialist French manufacturer of advanced-technology battery solutions, and on 4 April 2019 announced a continued push into renewables technology with a joint venture between Saft and Tianneng Energy Technology (TET) in China. The tactical move provides Total greater access to the world’s fastest-growing market for batteries, energy storage and electric vehicles and will enable the company to scale their e-mobility and energy storage businesses.
“The JV will allow Saft to join forces with a Chinese partner, a world-leading lead-acid battery manufacturer, willing to develop its lithium-ion activities. It will also give Saft access to China’s booming battery market as well as highly-competitive mass production capacity to accelerate its growth,” says Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and CEO of Total.
TET is a subsidiary of the Tianneng Group, a privately-owned Chinese enterprise with more than 30 years’ experience in battery technology and one of the top 10 enterprises in the Chinese battery industry. Tianneng Group has more than 50 domestic and foreign subsidiaries and 10 production bases in Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan and Guizhou provinces. The joint venture offers a 40%-60% shareholding for Saft and TET respectively.
The partnership’s primary manufacturing focus is on the development of advanced Li-ion cells, modules and packs. Manufacturing will take place at Tianneng Group’s Changxing Gigafactory. The factory has a possible capacity of 5.5-gigawatt hours (GWh), though the partners have signalled an intention to increase production capacity at the Changxing facility to prepare for forthcoming demand growth. The target market will be e-bikes and electric vehicles, as well as energy storage solutions, both in China and worldwide.