EU Battery Alliance pushes forward with pilot plants

EU Battery Alliance pushes forward with pilot plants

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The EU points to Umicore’s investment in Poland – Nysa – for the production of cathode materials. The plant will build upon the state-of-the-art technologies and is due to start deliveries in late 2020. A new Process Competence Centre will be built in Belgium to develop and scale up high-efficiency production technologies.

BASF in Germany plans to add production capabilities in Europe while Solvay is working on developing state-of-the-art electrolytes and electrode binders and separators that are needed for highly efficient batteries. The company is considering building a plant in Europe.

For battery cells, work has already begun to build a demonstration line in a project led by Northvolt of Sweden with a €52.5 million loan from the European Investment Bank. Production is to start in the second part of 2019. Northvolt has also obtained the permit to construct a larger scale facility in Skellefteå in Sweden, scaling up production up to 32 GWh in 2023.

The BMW Group, Northvolt and Umicore have formed a joint technology consortium in order to work closely together on the continued development of a complete and sustainable value chain for battery cells for electrified vehicles in Europe, while SAFT is working with Solvay, Umicore, Manz and others to develop and manufacture solid state Li-ion cells.

At the same time, Siemens is working with the entire cell manufacturing value chain on manufacturing challenges and solutions, and has recently engaged in piloting the first fully automated and digitized production lines in Europe.

Next: Regulation and design

“I am proud to see the traction created by the European Battery Alliance. As we mark its first year anniversary, we can show how the various pieces of puzzle are coming together thanks to our collaborative work with the European Investment Bank, several governments and the industry. We are now building a whole competitive value chain in Europe, with sustainable battery manufacturing at its core. And we are doing this at light speed,” said Maroš Šefčovič, EU Vice-President for Energy Union.

The Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, highlighted the importance of battery technology. “This alliance is at the heart of our industrial policy. A strong battery industry is a perfect fit for our ambition to promote clean mobility,” she said. “E-cars are the standard example, but we’re also already thinking about how the battery alliance could be useful for trucks, sea shipping and ferries. If Europe wants to lead and compete with other big industrial players around the world, we need to hurry up.”

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) InnoEnergy has engaged with a network of around 260 innovation and industrial players from all segments of the batteries value chain, from cell manufacturing, second-life batteries, ecolabel, carbon footprint reduction in manufacturing, a clearing house for batteries recycling, vehicle-to-grid, and enhanced cooperation between universities and companies to set up relevant education and training programmes. 

A new Eco-design Regulation is rapidly developing, to set the performance and sustainability criteria that batteries will have to comply to be placed on the EU market.The preparatory study is under preparation and a first stakeholder public consultation meeting will be organised on 20 December in Brussels. The Commission’s Joint Research Centre has also published today the results of a survey of battery-related standards, and a Commission Report on the Evaluation of the EU Batteries Directive should also be published before the end of the year. This will address the collection of waste batteries, the recycling levels achieved within the EU or the labelling system.

On 24th January 2019 a call will open with a total budget of €114 million from the EU Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020 for battery related topics, also supporting European Battery Alliance objectives. In 2020, additional topics for battery-related projects with a total budget of €70 million will be published.

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