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EU set to pump $14 billion into Europe’s battery ecosystem to make it the best in the world

Fri, 01/29/2021 - 10:37 -- Paul Crompton

The European Commission is aiming to release €11.9 billion ($14.4 billion) to drive growth in technological breakthroughs and innovations in the continent’s battery value chain.

The Commission, a branch of the European Union, has approved up to €2.9 billion ($3.5 billion) of public investments and aims to unlock a further €9 billion ($10.9 billion) in private investment under its European Battery Innovation project.

The project will include work in four areas of battery manufacturing: raw and advanced materials; battery cells; battery systems; and recycling and sustainability.

Twelve Member States— Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden— will support research and innovation in the batteries ecosystem from raw materials, design and manufacturing of battery cells and packs, to recycling and disposal in a circular economy.

Industrial players such as BMW, Fiat, Northvolt and Tesla, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups, will make up the 42 companies from the 12 Member States that will participate in the project. 

A Commission statement read: “It makes good sense for European governments to come together to support industry in developing more innovative and sustainable batteries. 

“The fact that it is an integrated project across the value chain is important because the various components of a battery have to work together seamlessly, to be safe, high performing and affordable. Innovations in one component, say the battery cathodes, have to be matched by innovations of the others, such as its anodes, separators, electrolytes.

“And when it comes to how batteries are produced, the project will bring about new innovative approaches, for example to reduce energy consumption and industrial waste.”

The project aims to:

  • Improve the real-time control and measurement systems of batteries. So that once batteries come to the end of their first life, for example after ten years in an electric vehicle, we will have information about its state of health. That will determine what the second life of the battery should be. Either as stationary energy storage, or to recycle them so that the precious materials can be recovered for the production of new batteries.
  • Significantly improve the environmental footprint of battery cell production, for example, through solvent free production processes.
  • Optimise use of digital technologies in processes across the value chain, using advanced data analytics to optimise production processes.

The decision follows the Commission's approval in December 2019 of a first batteries project, with seven Member States participating. That project is currently being implemented.

State aid rules offer Member States many possibilities to support the necessary research and innovation. In recent years, those have enabled more than €10 billion ($12 billion) per year in public support.

The European Battery Alliance was launched in 2017 to put European battery production on track to be the most innovative and sustainable in the world.