Batteries and storage are set to become even more important as electro-mobility and renewable energy go from strength to strength. That is why EU efforts are meant to help the burgeoning industry compete against the likes of China and electric carmaker Tesla.
Battery production is big business: the market is estimated to be worth around €250 billion a year and a slew of recent initiatives have been designed to help Europe get its piece of the action.
Under new plans revealed by the European Commission, the idea is to produce as many batteries as possible in Europe itself, relying as much as possible on materials sourced here.
Presented at the same time as brand new rules on CO2 emissions from trucks last week, the Strategic Action Plan for Batteries is intended to build on the work already achieved by the European Battery Alliance, launched last October.
The EU executive’s biggest battery fan, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, told EURACTIV that work should have started even earlier given the strategic role batteries are set to play in the e-mobility revolution. But the Slovak Commissioner is adamant that it will pay off.
“I have to say that I’m enthusiastic and impressed by how the battery alliance has hit the right spot. We got the right people in the room,” Šefčovič said, adding that “there were 80 companies, now there are 120 industrial actors”.
The new Action Plan, largely based on recommendations made by industry, lays down a comprehensive roadmap that includes assessing the availability of raw materials in 13 countries, coupling renewable power to battery production and improving standards.
It also reiterates the funding still available in this financial period for research and innovation: €110 million is still up for grabs for purely battery-related matters, while as much as €2 billion could be claimed from the European Innovation Council for “next generation projects”.
The European Investment Bank recently agreed to pump over €50 million into a planned battery factory in Sweden, which is helmed by former Tesla employee Peter Carlsson. That would complement an already-up-and-running facility in Poland, which is Europe’s largest battery plant.