European battery industry at crisis point, conference warned

European battery industry at crisis point, conference warned

European battery industry at crisis point, conference warned 1024 1024 Energy Storage Journal

June 9, 2023: Europe’s potential position as a major player in energy storage is at a critical juncture, according to various speakers at this year’s EUROBAT conference in Madrid on June 7.

Mike Blakeney (pictured), head of government and public affairs at the Cobalt Institute, said the offer of $369 billion of tax credits from the US under this year’s Inflation Reduction Act was not being matched by anything comparable from the European Union.

“At the moment what’s on offer from us stands at about $3 billion,” he said. He warned that the next 18 months would be critical in persuading investors to come into Europe and that it was time to “unlock private capital… we need to incentivize investors through initiatives looking at insurance terms, export credits and guarantees, contracts for difference and more,” he said.

The theme was taken up by Luis Marquina, head of AEPIBAL, the Spanish energy storage association, who reckoned that European political, business and technical involvement needed to step up a gear.

“Now is the time for leadership in our industry,” he said. “And if it doesn’t come now, it’ll be too late. China already is at the forefront of innovation, we cannot be left behind.”

William Adams head of battery and base metals research at Fastmarkets, said the question whether Europe had enough battery raw materials was complicated by the fact that Europe, China and the US will all rely on resources from the rest of the world. Competition between nations, businesses and industry sectors for supply will be a limiting factor in the near future.

He saw, however, the overall picture for European supply as improving over time. “In the future Europe will need to rely on imported concentrate for lithium,” he said.

“But it need not rely on imported processed material. Europe will see its mine supply grow and its processing capacity can grow at a faster pace, but it will rely on imports of raw materials or intermediates.

“In time, it can substitute mine supply with recycled material/battery scrap as the volume of end of life batteries picks up leading to a more circular economy.”

Analysis released last month indicated the the EU needed to invest more than €13 billion ($14 billion) by 2040 to guarantee just a quarter of key battery materials from European sources to power its green energy agenda.

The study by European electrochemical and thermal energy storage research center, CIC energiGUNE, assessed the impact of the Critical Raw Materials Act published by the European Commission in March.