EU batteries supply chain facing looming crisis, study says

EU batteries supply chain facing looming crisis, study says

EU batteries supply chain facing looming crisis, study says 1024 680 Energy Storage Journal

April 28, 2022: Europe faces major shortages of the key materials needed to make the batteries to power the bloc’s clean energy transition, according to a study published on April 25.

Eurometaux, which represents non-ferrous metals producers and recyclers in Europe, said the independent study by Belgium’s KU Leuven research university showed the bloc could face problems around 2030 from global supply shortages for five metals — especially lithium, cobalt, nickel, rare earths, and copper.

Meanwhile, the study said coal-powered Chinese and Indonesian metal production will dominate global refining capacity growth for battery metals and rare earths — while Europe continues to rely on Russia for its supply of aluminium, nickel and copper.

‘Unsustainable suppliers’

The study says Europe faces “critical shortfalls” in the next 15 years without more mined and refined metals to supply batteries needed for electric vehicles, energy storage systems and renewable power infrastructure.

Study lead author Liesbet Gregoir said: “Europe needs to decide urgently how it will bridge its looming supply gap for primary metals. Without a decisive strategy, it risks new dependencies on unsustainable suppliers.”

The study recommends that Europe link up with “proven responsible suppliers” to manage environmental and social risks and asks why the bloc has not yet followed other global powers, such as China, in investing in mines to ensure environmental, social and governance standards.

‘Bottlenecks’

Recycling metals in Europe could produce three quarters of Europe-made battery cathodes by 2050 if it “invests heavily now and fixes bottlenecks”, according to the study.

However, recycling “will not provide a major EU supply source to Europe’s electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy technologies until after 2040”, the study says.

Meeting the European Union’s so-called green deal goal of climate neutrality by 2050 will require 35 times more lithium and seven to 26 times the amount of increasingly scarce rare earth metals, “compared to Europe’s limited use today”, the study says.

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