The European Commission has pledged to pump EUR200 million ($232.5m) of fresh funding into developing “next generation electric batteries” in the EU over the next three years.
The announcement took industry insiders by surprise— coming three months before the Commission is due to finalise a “comprehensive roadmap” to fund an EU ‘batteries alliance’.
And battery industry leaders, who have already voiced concern over the EU’s lukewarm support for Europe’s lead battery producers, have again cautioned policymakers against politically-inspired ‘cherry picking’ of technologies.
A Commission spokesperson declined to comment on why new funding had been announced before support for the entire battery industry had been finalised. The spokesperson told BBB the cash would come from a total EUR2.2 billion earmarked for clean energy projects— which are among the Commission’s “political priorities”.
EUROBAT executive director René Schroeder told BBB: “We should continue developing all the battery technologies we have in Europe today. Lead, lithium, nickel and sodium-based batteries will all deliver CO2 savings in vehicles with different powertrains, which will coexist for the foreseeable future”.
“Batteries of different technologies already deliver important CO2 emission savings through increased hybridisation and electrification, all the way from start-stop technology to full electric vehicles,” Schroeder said.
“The global competition on the development of advanced battery technologies is particularly fierce, but the European battery industry must not lose ground compared to international competitors to enjoy the benefits in terms of competitiveness, jobs, growth and innovation.”
Meanwhile, fears of lead bias were stoked up in a separate announcement on EU plans to decarbonise the transport sector. Industry commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska (pictured) said the Commission would push for “market uptake of zero emission cars, with seamless charging infrastructure and high-quality batteries produced in Europe”.
Bieńkowska made no reference to the high-quality lead batteries safely produced and recycled in the EU— despite her department admitting that “at least 80% of the new (EU) car fleet in 2030 will contain an internal combustion engine” and still rely on lead-acid.