Normally when a massive factory closes its doors an outlet mall or giant water park pops up in its place. But one former cigarette plant in Concord, North Carolina is turning into something completely unexpected. Swiss battery manufacturer Alveo announced plans to turn a 3.5 million square-foot cigarette factory into a facility that makes batteries for solar and wind farms.

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The announcement is an exciting bit of evidence pointing to a changing economy in the US. At the same time that Americans are smoking far less than in the past, the country’s power grid is aging, and as one industry fades a new one is taking hold. In fact, clean energy has been very important in the economic recovery since the recession.

Related: Tesla’s Lithium-Ion “Gigafactory” to Reduce Battery Costs by More than 30%

Alveo expects the new plant to employ 2,500 people over the next three years. Once up and running, the plant will manufacture lithium-iron-phosphate batteries that charge in 30 minutes and can handle 40,000 cycles before discharging, which puts it on par with manufacturers like Tesla. By 2023, it’s expected that the utility battery industry will expand 10 times, generating around $2.5 billion a year.

Via Think Progress

Lead image via Shutterstock, image via John Buie