TAB launching Li-ion battery production

TAB to make lithium-ion batteries at the Prevalje location. Photo: STA

TAB, the Mežica-based maker of lead-acid batteries and one of Slovenia’s largest exporters, is planning to launch lithium-ion batteries production in Prevalje, in the north of the country, in February.

The production, involving 40 employees, will be located in a new production hall which TAB has purchased from pharmaceutical company Lek.

Initially, the batteries will be assembled manually, but a new automated line to assemble electricity storage modules is expected to be set up in October, CEO Roman Burja announced on 26 January.

The company has for years been trying to expand from lead-acid batteries to lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and has founded a joint venture with China’s Haidi Energy Technology.

TAB has been buying lithium-ion cells in Asia so far, and then assembled them at its facility in Žerjav, just south of Mežica. Now this production will move to Prevalje, about ten kilometres away.

Lithium-ion batteries are interesting for a wide range of buyers, from small investors in Slovenia to large energy companies. “It’s all about the fact that the batteries can be used to actively manage electricity,” Burja said.

For example, batteries can be charged when electricity prices are low and used when they are high. TAB thus also counts on buyers who work on integrated energy solutions in Slovenia and across Europe.

The production in Prevalje has been set up as part of the €3.1 million DIGITAB project, for which the partners have received €1.6 million in state and EU funding from the recovery and resilience plan.

TAB’s partners in the project are regional companies active in different aspects of IT and software, including Stroka and Stroka Produkt, Pro-bit, Inbex, Troia and Eutrip, which specialises in energy use optimisation.

Matej Lorenci, who is in charge of the lead-acid batteries project and DIGITAB at TAB, said the project was an opportunity for the company to use modern technology, including for remote product and process monitoring, and for employees and future employees to learn with the help of augmented and virtual reality.

TAB reported €260 million in sales revenue and €16.5 million in profit for 2021, the last year for which data is available. It put out 1.4 million industrial cells and 2.7 million starter batteries. The company employed 670 people at the end of 2021.