Over recent years, “gigafactories” have been discussed a lot across mainstream news and social media. This is largely thanks to Tesla and the increased demand for electric vehicles.
Currently, Tesla has six different gigafactories around the world where the batteries are built for its electric vehicles. On top of this, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence reports that there are also 300+ battery gigafactories in construction (or early planning stages) from other companies.
Clearly, there's a huge shift taking place towards gigafactories — but why is this? And, more importantly, are gigafactories sustainable? This guide is going to take a closer look at the gigafactory craze and whether they're truly sustainable or not.
What is a Gigafactory?
A gigafactory is a large manufacturer of rechargeable batteries that are used for electric vehicles. The perfect example of this is the above-mentioned Tesla, a company that officially coined the “gigafactory” term. Any factory that produces batteries on a significant scale is now referred to as a gigafactory.
Naturally, gigafactories are going to be a huge part of the world's future because of the switch towards electric vehicles. As a result, many gigafactories are being analysed from the point of sustainability and eco-friendliness. Simply put, people want to know how good they are for the planet.
So far, it's looking great. One of the main reasons for this is due to the fact that gigafactories are using Avocet Battery Materials that have been sourced in Europe. The materials are then manufactured into high-quality tabs before then being supplied to gigafactories, enabling them to optimize cell performance and be more sustainable.
This is barely scratching the surface, though, as Gigafactories are also sustainable in a variety of other ways. Let's find out how.
Gigafactories: Sustainable Practices
From circulate value chains to Artificial Intelligence and automation, gigafactories are winning the sustainability fight in a convincing manner.
Circular Value Chains
Firstly, gigafactories and battery manufacturers are switching away from linear value chains to circular value chains, instead. When a circular value chain is in place, this is when the materials used are reused or recycled rather than going to waste. As a result, the planet benefits, and better products can be created.
One of Tesla's strong points is its “Circular Economy”. Since the beginning, Tesla has been focused on recycling, which has helped it attract eco-conscious customers and build a positive brand image over the past few decades. And because Tesla is so focused on recycling, it encourages other companies to make their gigafactories sustainable as well.
Fun example: Nissan famously recycled its old EV batteries for the Cricket World Cup back in 2019, using them as a power source for Bennington Cricket Club.
Next, there are solar arrays.
Solar arrays are fast becoming a key part of the world's leading gigafactories. In a nutshell, solar arrays are collections of multiple solar panels (sometimes hundreds) that are spread out across gigafactories. Through the solar arrays, gigafactories are then able to power themselves through renewable energy and ultimately reduce carbon emissions at the same time.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation
Finally, gigafactories are embracing sustainability through AI and automation.
Many parts of the battery manufacturing process have been altered so that they're faster, use less energy, and produce less waste. If you were to look inside one of Tesla's many gigafactories, you'd see many robots on the manufacturing lines.
By 2025, electric vehicle sales will account for around 20% of all new car sales. Clearly, the electronic vehicle trend isn't going to disappear, which is why sustainable gigafactories will be so important moving forward. Thankfully, through sustainable practices such as circular value chains and the optimization of AI, there's plenty to be positive about.