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News from the Regions in Structural Change

Germany’s regions in structural change are a magnet for international investment and innovation. 

Brandenburg records highest federal state GDP growth 

The federal state of Brandenburg reported a six percent increase in inflation-adjusted GDP in the first half of 2023 – the highest in the country. In nominal terms excluding inflation, the increase was more than 14 percent. Much of the state’s economic success can be attributed to a strong manufacturing sector (and more specifically the auto production and parts sector led by Tesla), the spin-off auto sector supplier effects and the state’s political foresight to invest significantly in renewable energies. Investors can invest knowing exactly where their electricity comes from and how large their production carbon footprint will be in advance.

Canadian recycling company commissions lithium-ion plant in Sülzetal

Canadian company Li-Cycle opened one of the largest lithium-ion battery recycling plants in Europe in Saxony-Anhalt in September. The facility in Sülzetal near Magdeburg will process 10,000 tons of used batteries as part of an initial expansion phase, with capacity doubling by the end of the current year and rising to up to 30,000 tons from 2024 onward. The development represents a first market entry into the European market for the Canadian company which includes Swiss commodities concern Glencore and battery cell manufacturer LG among its investors. Speaking to Handelsblatt, co-founder Tim Johnson said that “Germany is one of the epicenters in Europe for lithium-ion battery manufacturing and the automotive sector in general. This has led us to accelerate and expand the construction of our plant in Magdeburg.“ 

Green“ methanol research project launched in Leuna

A new research project for the production of „green“ methanol as fuel for shipping and aviation is starting in Leuna. The three-year e-CO2Met project led by a consortium including TotalEnergies and several Fraunhofer research institutes will receive funding of EUR 10.4 million from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. TotalEnergies currently produces around 700,000 tons of methanol annually at its Leuna facility, making it the largest methanol producer in Europe. A pilot plant at the new Fraunhofer Hydrogen Lab in the Leuna Chemical Park is the first project of he Hy2Chem platform supported by the state of Saxony-Anhalt using European regional development funds. 

Lithium-ion battery alternative set for production in Saxony 

The Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS) and Australian battery company Altech Group have joined forces to develop a battery whose most important ingredient is to be found in every kitchen: salt. The sodium-chloride energy storage system is set to go into industrial production at the Schwarze Pumpe industry park in Saxony. A pilot facility for the cheaper lithium-ion technology competitor is already up and running in Dresden. Together, Altech and Fraunhofer IKTS plan to produce and market a sodium alumina solid state battery under the brand name Cerenergy from the mid-three digit million facility that is set to have annual production capacity of 100 MWh corresponding to a first production line in 2025.

University of Oxford interest in one billion euro chemistry research center

The University of Oxford has expressed its interest in entering a partnership with the planed Center for the Transformation of Chemistry (CTC) in Saxony. The one billion euro chemistry research center is set to transform the economy of the town of Delitzsch, 20 km to the north of Leipzig. In September 2022, the CTC was one of two winning concepts in the “Science Creating Prospects for the Region!” competition (based on the “Act on Structural Change in Coal Mining Areas” legislation to support regions in transformation) organized by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Behind this is a joint initiative of the federal government, the Free State of Saxony and the state of Saxony-Anhalt. 

Semiconductor research center for Silicon Saxony

Applied Materials and Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS are joining forces to establish one of the largest technology centers for semiconductor metrology and process analysis in Europe. The facility will be located at the Fraunhofer IPMS Center Nanoelectronic Technologies (CNT) in the Silicon Saxony cluster. The new tech hub will enable advanced wafer-level metrology within Fraunhofer’s industrial CMOS environment and Fraunhofer IPMS’ capability to exchange wafers directly with semiconductor manufacturers.

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