The LiFePO4 Energy Storage manufacturing facility in Ruse, Bulgaria, is officially open for business, Solar MD said. The battery manufacturer based in South Africa intends to have 70 full-time employees.

Chief Executive Officer of Solar MD Kaloyan Dimov welcomed partners from Turkey, Bulgaria and Ukraine at the official ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the launch of a lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery plant in his hometown of Rousse on the Danube river. The new facility in Bulgaria is the first expansion of operations from the manufacturing unit in Cape Town, South Africa, where the company launched production in 2015.

The idea is to create 70 full-time jobs, but there will be just 15 employees in the initial phase. The local authority revealed that Solar MD has remaining administrative requirements to fulfill. Bulgarian media reported that the South African plant has 150 workers.

Local partners to make some of battery parts

“We have clients in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and the Middle East. Since supply is very slow from South Africa, we decided to open this smaller factory in Ruse and cooperate with local partners for some of the battery parts. Only the final assembly of the batteries will be done here. They are made in China,” Dimov explained.

The new unit will also optimize proprietary software for end products. The system itself is free but customers pay EUR 180 for hardware.

The company targets an initial annual output of 60 MWh

“We want to start with about 60 MWh per year. That means assembling 20 batteries a day. After that, we are thinking of expanding,” said Dimov. Solar MD already ships its products to Turkey. The CEO earlier valued the investment in Bulgaria at EUR 1.53 million and said the factory would make batteries for local and European buyers.

Solar MD is the largest manufacturer of energy storage systems in Africa, with over 7,000 completed projects, Dimov claimed. The company is also a co-founding member of the Association for Production, Storage and Trading of Electricity (APSTE) of Bulgaria.

Solar MD is sourcing battery cells from CATL

In its home market, the firm provides lithium ion storage systems for residential, commercial and utility-scale applications including mines and small municipalities, according to its website. Solar MD sources battery cells from CATL, from China.

State-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding or BEH has just established a subsidiary for green energy and storage projects.

Elsewhere in the region tracked by Balkan Green Energy News, battery storage startup ElevenEs said last week that its manufacturing facility in neighboring Serbia is fully operational. In Turkey, TOGG and Chinese battery manufacturer Farasis are building a plant for batteries for the electric car manufacturer’s T10X model.

Earlier, EIT InnoEnergy became a shareholder in Prime Batteries Technology from Romania, which intends to invest EUR 1 billion by 2026 to scale up its battery production.