Europe has “lost its edge” to China in the battery stakes— even before the EU’s proposed Batteries Alliance starts making cells, the boss of the company that owns French batteries firm Saft has said.
Patrick Pouyanné (pictured), the chairman and CEO of oil and gas giant Total, which acquired Saft in 2016, told broadcaster CNBC: “Quite frankly, Europe’s lost its edge, in this area, hasn’t it? The Chinese are now the world leaders in renewable energy.”
Pouyanné said he had spoken to German economy minister Peter Altmaier, who had “talked a lot about batteries, and how he thinks it’s an important direction” in which Europe should go.
Saft, as a “high-tech battery company”, continues to be involved in talks with EU political leaders— who are “driving a very strong policy towards electric vehicles”, because batteries are a “key element” and will benefit European jobs, Pouyanné said.
However, Pouyanné said: “I think that something which is not handled well in batteries today is the recycling.”
He said Total was “very keen on environmental matters” and suggested the creation of a European “recycling standard— which could be a way to oblige Chinese companies, and others, to meet our standards”.
But Pouyanné cautioned that such a move would be “very capital intensive, so the decision is very tough”.
Last year, Saft said it was teaming up with European companies for a seven-year programme to develop next generation batteries— “focusing on advanced high-density lithium-ion and solid-state technology”.
A recent study warned EU battery recycling policies were chaotic and “outdated”. You can read about that and much more in the latest issue of BEST magazine. Click here to subscribe.