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Germany’s billion-euro bid to lead EU battery cell production

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 00:00 -- John Shepherd
Peter Altmeier

Germany has pledged to pump €1 billion (US$1.1bn) into promoting battery cell production by 2021— with the aim of German and European producers “supplying 30% of global demand” by 2030.

The head of the federal economic affairs and energy ministry, Peter Altmaier, also revealed a “new battery cell consortium” could be formed in Germany around the end of this year.

A briefing document issued by Altmaier’s department did not disguise Germany’s ambition to be in the driving seat of the European Union’s Batteries Alliance project— as BEST Battery Briefing reported last month.

Germany’s funding will “promote companies” from the country that are “affiliated with European cooperation partners”, according to the briefing.

“Concrete signals” from Germany industry players to kick-start projects are expected “around the turn of the year”, the briefing said. “After that, there will be concrete funding opportunities for consortia and locations.”

But the briefing sought to alleviate concerns that Germany could flout EU state aid rules to boost national industrial projects, saying the battery funding would meet guidelines for supporting ‘important projects of common European interest’.

However, the battery cells “must form international benchmarks” in terms of “high energy density and performance at competitive prices, long life and a high number of charging cycles”, the German government said. Production and disposal processes should be “sustainable and environmentally sound” and should promote “fair working conditions in the entire value chain of battery production”.

Meanwhile, Chinese lithium giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) has opened a commercial base in Germany’s east-central state of Thüringen— near the site of the firm’s planned €240 million ($280m) electric vehicle battery gigafactory at Erfurt.

BEST Battery Briefing revealed earlier this year that Germany would be dipping into an economic aid fund to support CATL’s production in Thüringen— but officials declined to give investment details.

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