The Ministry of Industry is preparing to approve aid of 300 million euros to the Chinese industrial group Envision to promote its electric vehicle battery gigafactory project in Extremadura. For the time being, the ministerial resolution of concession is provisional and includes a subsidy of 200 million euros and a subsidized loan for another 100 million euros charged to the European funds of the Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, within the framework of PERTE VEC II to promote electric vehicles.
Although the aid is intended for a project linked to the automotive industry, it is in another sector where it has started to raise blisters. The Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE) is against the financing with European funds to the Chinese group Envision, which also plans to enter the wind energy business in the Spanish market with a wind turbine assembly plant in Avila.
"We are concerned that European public funds are being used to finance the landing of Chinese industry," explains Heikki Willstedt, director of Energy Policy and Climate Change at AEE. "The European wind energy subsidies are restricted because they are considered state aid, but aid is distributed to China so that it can set up in Europe. Let Chinese companies disembark if they want, but not with European public aid".
The Spanish wind energy association sent a letter last year to the then Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, to express its dissatisfaction with the collaboration agreements signed by the Spanish government with the Envision group to facilitate its arrival in the Spanish market. AEE is preparing a new letter to the current Minister of Industry, Héctor Gómez, to insist on the national wind energy sector's concern about the financing of a Chinese competitor.
A 3,800 M
Envision, a green technology giant, has a deployment plan in the Spanish market to boost four projects in the fields of battery manufacturing, renewable energy generation and industrial components in this field, energy storage and digital technologies, with investments estimated at around 3.8 billion euros. Envision has chosen Spain as the headquarters for its European business.
The Ministries for Ecological Transition and Industry signed a collaboration protocol with the Chinese group last year to promote these projects in the Spanish market. Specifically, the company plans to start up a wind power generation and wind turbine assembly plant in Las Navas del Marqués (Ávila) with an investment of 100 million euros; a giant battery factory for electric cars in Navalmoral de la Mata (Extremadura) for 2,500 million; a plant for renewable hydrogen production and manufacture of electrolyzers in Alcázar de San Juan, with an investment of around 900 million; and also a center for the development of digital products.
The engine endorses the aid
In contrast to the criticisms of the wind industry, the Spanish Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers (Anfac), the employers' association that groups together the automobile brands with an industrial presence in the Spanish market, finds no reason to criticize the distribution of aid to foreign groups with European funds within the framework of the Recovery Plan, including Envision.
Anfac, with several of its associates opting for the same aid as Envision for giant battery factories, stresses the positive aspects for the sector and the Spanish economy of attracting new foreign investment and generating added value in the Spanish automotive market, and supports the arrival in Spain of industrial motor companies from all over the world.