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Battery component maker plans $3.5B campus near Charleston

121422 Camp Hall aerial .jpg
Camp Hall Commerce Park
An aerial view of the Camp Hall Commerce Park, in Berkeley County, S.C., near Charleston. Redwood Materials plans a $3.5 billion campus there, the largest economic development investment in state history.

Redwood Materials, a Nevada company that makes electric vehicle battery components, says it will build a $3.5 billion campus near Charleston, South Carolina. State officials say it's the largest economic development investment in South Carolina's history.

Redwood said the facility, in the Camp Hall Commerce Park in Ridgeville, will have 1,500 employees.

“Redwood Materials’ record-breaking announcement shows that our state’s strategic plan to remain a top destination for automobile manufacturers and their suppliers as the industry innovates is working,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement. “This $3.5 billion investment, and the 1,500 jobs it will create in Berkeley County, is a transformative accomplishment."

The company makes battery parts known as anodes and cathodes mainly from recycled materials, such as used batteries and scrap from manufacturing. Redwood said the site will allow it to move production of critical components to the U.S, which would lower costs and carbon emissions.

Production is expected to start sometime next year. The company said the campus initially would produce enough anodes and cathodes for 1 million electric vehicles per year.

South Carolina officials approved incentives for the project, which had been dubbed "Project Drift." They include $226 million in economic development bonds. That money will help Redwood buy the 600-acre site and pay for site improvements, roads and other infrastructure, according to a press release from the state.

Redwood was founded by J.B. Straubel, a former executive and co-founder of electric car maker Tesla.

Redwood's investment is more than double the previous record investment in South Carolina. In October, BMW announced plans to spend $1.7 billion for new electric vehicle and battery plants near Spartanburg.

The project is the latest in a series of electric vehicle-related investments across the Carolinas — facilities and plants that supply materials, batteries and vehicles. On Tuesday, Charlotte-based Albemarle Corp. announced a $200 million lithium research center in northeast Charlotte, with 200 jobs.

The region is also home to electric car, bus and truck makers; battery plants; and lithium processing facilities. All are seeking to meet growing demand for vehicles that don't emit carbon to help fight climate change. Transportation is the region's and the nation's largest source of the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.
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