A Chinese industrial gigaproject~, is taking shape just outside the peaceful gardens and centuries-old homes of a little Hungarian village in the country’s eastern corner. The almost 550-acre site for the upcoming electric vehicle (EV) battery factory has already been graded and excavated. One of Hungary’s largest foreign investments to date, the 7.3 billion euro ($7.9 billion) factory is being built in the hopes that it will transform the Central European nation into a global hub of lithium-ion battery manufacturing at a time when governments are scrambling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adopting electric vehicles.
Residents, environmentalists, and opposition politicians are concerned that the massive factory, constructed by Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) of China, will worsen the country’s environmental problems, drain its scarce water resources, and further weaken its economy relative to China. When you pass by the construction site, you get a horrible feeling in your gut. Eva Kozma, a 47-year-old mother from the area, is one of several locals from the village near the construction site who are opposed to the project. “I simply feel this bad feeling in my stomach,” she said.
Is this what we’ve been waiting for? Putting a concrete facility on top of a natural area when we know how polluting the plant will be? that’s what she said. The Great Hungarian Plain is in danger of desertifying as a result of rising temperatures and decreasing precipitation. Heavy water usage by agriculture and the depletion of groundwater due to climate change have combined to have a disastrous effect on crop production in the region.
Despite these environmental challenges, Hungary’s government is making a concerted effort to attract investments in EV battery production because it sees an opportunity in the European Union’s plans to end production of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines by 2035. As Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto stated earlier this month in Beijing, the presence of these German automakers “inspired” the recent flurry of Chinese investments in EV battery plants, and “the Chinese suppliers of these German companies continue to regard Hungary as the meeting point of East-West investment.”
News on SNBC13.com