The European Battery Alliance held its third meeting in less than 18 months on Tuesday in Brussels to discuss issues such as sustainable production and processing of raw materials, financing new investments and creating new policies to advance European projects.
European Union ministers are steadfast in their resolve to prioritize the establishment of a strategic battery value chain in Europe, according to a top EU diplomat.
But the countries involved need to speed up and coordinate support for transnational projects across the supply chain, according to Maroš Šefčovič, vice president for energy union at the European Commission.
Over €100 billion are invested in flagship projects across Europe to cover the entire supply chain from raw materials to end products like electric vehicles, according to data from project accelerator EIT InnoEnergy.
This includes major projects like Sweden’s Northvolt Gigafactory, led by former Tesla manager Peter Carlsson. Its plant in northern Sweden is anticipated to generate an annual cell production of around 8 gigawatt hours with the capacity to increase that figure to 32 GWh by 2023, putting the facility on par with Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory.
Northvolt’s Swedish operations will undoubtedly increase the need for raw material feedstock to meet the anticipated demand.
Europe's next mega-industry
European Battery Alliance member Leading Edge Materials (CVE:LEM) (OTCMKTS:LEMIF) is advancing a battery metals project in Sweden. The junior mining company is one of a selection of member companies on the raw materials side.
According to Leading Edge CEO Mark Saxon, Europe is trying to accelerate its involvement in the battery value chain, but are "well aware" that they have not made the needed investments to date.
"Today's statement (by Šefčovič) reinforces the European Commission's view that battery manufacturing is Europe's next mega-industry," said Saxon. "It deals with support for the whole supply chain, including mining, in Europe.
"A secure supply chain cannot be built without a secure mining industry to underpin it."
Institutional and political support
According to Šefčovič, more member states are now showing their interest to join the Important Projects of Common European Interest initiative. “I have assured them today that we will look at subsequent projects with the same level of determination and commitment,” he commented.
“Moreover, our strategic partnership with the European Investment Bank is reaching an unprecedented level,” he said in a statement.
“In May, a decision will be taken by its board on substantial financing for a Giga-factory in Sweden – it means moving from a pilot line to industrial deployment. This should serve as reference for other investors and future projects.”
However, more projects are needed to support development throughout the supply chain, and the only way to encourage further investment is with political support.
“We all agree that we need a robust framework in place to support our European champions,” said Šefčovič. “This means our sustainability requirements and standards should be ready when EU mass production starts in 2022-23.”
Šefčovič stressed that the sustainability requirements should cover the entire value chain, including sustainable and ethical mining, and production based on low carbon footprint.
“This is the only way to underpin our competitiveness and promote our standards globally.”
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