Japanese electric vehicle battery maker Envision AESC broke ground on a $2-billion plant in Kentucky Aug. 30, part of the state's goal to become a national leader in this emerging market. 

The plans call for construction of a 3-million-sq-ft plant with a 30-GWh capacity in Bowling Green, Ky. There is also potential to expand it further to a 40-GWh capacity. The plant will be entirely powered by renewable energy, including solar generated onsite and power purchased from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The Yates Companies Inc. of Philadelphia, Miss., is the primary contractor on the project. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) says the project will support thousands of construction jobs.

Largest Project Investments in Kentucky

This is the second-largest investment in state history, Beshear said. The largest is also for an EV battery plant project, BlueOval SK Battery Park in Glendale, Ky. That $5.8-billion development is owned by a joint venture of Ford Motor Co. and South Korean battery maker SK Innovation. 

As ENR previously reported, Southfield, Mich.-based Barton Malow and Lexington, Ky.-based Gray Construction are building two EV battery plants as part of the Ford-SK project. Construction started on one of the plants in July, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. 

The two projects “cement Kentucky as the electric vehicle battery production capital of the United States,” Beshear said at a groundbreaking event for the Envision AESC plant. Other large EV battery projects are in the works in Georgia, Tennessee and elsewhere.

Consulting firm McKinsey & Company projected in 2022 that demand for battery cells will grow, on average, by more than 20% per year until 2030, reaching at least $360 billion globally. It also reports that Europe and North America, which have less developed markets, are likely to experience substantial growth in EVs. By contrast, the battery value chain is well established in China, the world’s biggest market for EVs, and South Korea, according to McKinsey.