The Philip Morris plant in Concord, North Carolina used to manufacture a billion cigarettes a year. But Americans are smoking less, and in the tobacco giant shuttered the factory’s doors years ago and announced plans to sell the 2,100 acre, the 3.5 million square foot facility. In a sure sign that the U.S. economy is changing for the better, the empty space is not being turned in an outlet mall or water park but into a giant manufacturing site for utility-scale batteries that will store wind and solar electricity. Alevo, the Swiss maker of the battery technology, plans to open the plant Tuesday, and says that within three years they will create 2,500 high paying jobs.
Alevo, which has been working on its battery technology for more than a decade, is entering a crowded field where dozens of startups and some established players such as AES Energy Storage are vying for a market that is poised to explode. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, worldwide revenue from advanced batteries for utility-scale energy storage applications will grow from a paltry $164 million in 2014 to more than $2.5 billion in 2023.