The European Union needs to rethink competition laws to better compete in the batteries market with Asian players, a German ministerial aide has told European battery manufacturers.
But Thomas Bareiss (pictured), parliamentary state secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, admitted that while Germany wanted to be “agnostic” in terms of its support for battery technologies, lithium-ion is currently favoured over lead-acid to build a European battery cells industry to cater for electric vehicles.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has confirmed its approval in principle of a €350 million (US$391m) loan for Swedish battery maker Northvolt to build a 16GWh capacity lithium-ion battery cell plant— as revealed by BEST Battery Briefing last week.
EIB vice-president Andrew McDowell (pictured) said the loan is the largest ever direct financing approved by the bank for battery technology. The financing will be through the EIB-managed European Fund for Strategic Investments.
EU leaders have released a long-awaited ‘strategic action plan’ that says batteries should be at the heart of future industrial strategy.
But lead-acid was not even mentioned (unlike lithium) in the document— published as part of the outgoing European Commission’s ‘State of the Energy Union’ report: ‘Implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Batteries: Building a Strategic Battery Value Chain in Europe.’
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US battery manufacturer Exide Technologies is investing in a solar power facility coupled with VRLA battery storage at its production plant in Castanheira do Ribatejo in Portugal.
Another solar facility will be installed at Exide’s recycling plant in Azambuja, Portugal.
The solar-plus-storage system will pair 500kWh worth of Sonnenschein A600 VRLA from GNB— a division of Exide Technologies— with solar. The two sites will have a combined total of around 10,000 solar photovoltaic panels, with a total generating capacity of 3.8MWp. The company said this was equivalent to the power requirements of more than 2,000 homes.
Europe has been urged to develop a new industrial strategy to “champion” all batteries, including lead-acid.
The managing director of the International Lead Association (ILA), Dr Andy Bush (pictured), said the creation of a Batteries Alliance and a ‘batteries action plan’ for the EU, has been “one of the successes of the European Commission”.
However, Bush said it was a “weakness” for EU policymakers to “focus predominantly on one battery technology, omitting to support Europe’s existing strengths in this area and the jobs it generates in our societies”.
Greek lead-acid battery maker Sunlight is entering the electrical industrial vehicles (eIVs) market with the launch of a “smart lithium batteries” line.
Sunlight said the debut of its ‘Li.On Force’ follows “a multi-year intensive research plan” to produce batteries “that combine the advantages of batteries featuring lithium technology” with applications of Internet of Things technology.
A battery management system relays performance and other data in real time to a Sunlight control centre via the Cloud.