Epsilon Advanced Materials (EAM), an Indian battery materials company, announced that it would build a $650 million graphite anode manufacturing plant in Brunswick County, North Carolina.
The company says that the 1.5 million-square-foot facility, which breaks ground in 2024 and is supposed to start operations in 2026, will create about 500 new jobs. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper in a statement noted that the jobs will be in “clean energy.”
Anodes are positively charged electrodes that are used in storage batteries and other devices that use a pair of charged electrodes (the negative one is the cathode) to operate.
“We’re proud to have North Carolina at the focal point of our U.S. manufacturing strategy,” said EAM Managing Director Vikram Handa in prepared remarks. “With its favorable geographical location, business supportive policies and availability of a skilled talent pool, we are confident that the investment in the state is a major step towards creating sustainable energy transportation alternatives,”
There was a time that western companies would have almost certainly, in an almost reflex action, would outsource such basic items to contract factories in China and other parts of Asia.
But this particular announcement shows a shift in dynamics. One, India is a technology power — has been for years, truth be told. The IT consulting firms have been sending people over to U.S. companies that were looking for consultants to take over in-house tech operations at a discount.
Now they are following the older practice of Japanese companies building factories in the U.S. to make entire cars or, now, parts for batteries that will be in high demand as U.S. auto and truck manufacturers push toward pivoting their businesses to electric vehicles.
“Establishing a manufacturing plant in Brunswick County, North Carolina, offers strategic advantages, such as proximity to the Wilmington port, automotive suppliers, Southeastern vehicle manufacturing facilities and the local community college,” the company said. “The location also streamlines logistics, reduces costs and provides access to the growing electric vehicle market. The skilled local workforce, with support from the community college, and potential economic incentives enhance the business environment, while geographic features offer resilience and sustainability.”
Last year, LG Energy Solution from South Korea and General Motors were planning to spend $2.1 billion on an EV battery plant, as Reuters reported at the time.