The European Union is pledging to throw additional cash at projects that support plans for an EU-wide battery cell manufacturing industry to compete with Asia.
The move comes one-year after the launch of the EU Batteries Alliance initiative— which has been heavily criticised for favouring investments in lithium-based technologies for future electric vehicles while attacking the bloc’s lead-acid industry.
Now EU energy chief and European Commission vice-president, Maroš Šefčovič, has said around €1 million of new funding could be made available under a newly-launched ‘Interregional Partnership for Batteries’ (IPB)— “to promote European cooperation across public authorities, research, and industry” in support of the Batteries Alliance.
Šefčovič said the IPG funding could provide “technical assistance and the removal of barriers to investment” for business plans that help Europe’s “attempt to catch up with Asian competitors on the next generation of batteries”.
In addition Šefčovič— who is lobbying to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president— said the Commission is also “ready to discuss the allocation and reprogramming of funds” under regional aid policy to get battery cell production under way. Šefčovič said those funds amount to €44 billion in total for 2014-2020, “including €12.4bn for clean transport alone”.
Earlier this month, the International Lead Association (ILA) warned thousands of battery jobs risk being axed in Europe and ‘exported’ to overseas competitors as a result of unnecessary and restrictive legislation.
The ILA said EU proposals for an “in-effect ban” on the use of four chemical compounds, mainly used in the manufacture of lead batteries, was still on the table.