How to build the batteries of the future

14/10/2019
We are still in time: Europe works to achieve its strategic autonomy in the entire battery value chain.

Batteries are a key element in the transition to a carbon-free economy as they facilitate the integration of renewable energy (especially photovoltaic and wind) in the network and allow the electrification of transport. Energy storage is crucial for Europe.

The European industry is highly competitive in the automotive and energy sectors. However, world production of battery cells is dominated by China, producer of 61% of lithium-ion batteries (those currently used for electric vehicles), 21% of batteries are produced in other Asian countries (Korea and Japan) and 10% come from the United States.

 

European Gigafactories

Today, automotive manufacturers are asking for better and cheaper batteries, but Europe cannot provide them, and European car manufacturers are forced to go to the Asian market. There is a critical productive problem; if we are to meet the expectations of the demand for batteries by 2030 and 2050: we urgently need “gigafactories”. Although it is evident that we are late, the good news is that there is consensus and commitment from all the key actors to correct this situation: without European batteries, our leading industrial sectors are at risk.

In addition,  to achieve better performance and push for more competitive batteries in terms of price and durability, the strategy is to act in a coordinated manner integrating the entire value chain and life cycle: from research into advanced Li-Ion batteries and in post-Li-Ion technologies, through strategic access to raw materials and second-life batteries, and ending with business investment, financial support and knowledge generation. Although it is always difficult for three points to form a straight line, it seems that this time the European Commission, the research sector and industry have aligned.

 

Alliances and necessary platforms

A first milestone in European battery development was achieved with the formation of the EU Battery Alliance, launched by the European Commission in 2017 as a joint initiative led by European industry players to avoid European dependence on the supply of batteries and to recover lost ground. The EU Battery Alliance joins about 260 agents, coordinated by EIT InnoEnergy, and large investments have already been announced, with the support of the EIB (European Investment Bank), of both battery and raw material processing and recycling production plants (Strategic Action Plan on Batteries).

The next milestone has been the launch in 2019 of the ETIP batteries (European Technology and Innovation Platform on Batteries), whose main purpose is similar to that of the ETIP SNET: to support the key agents of the sector, in industry and in research, for the design of innovation strategies, in this case in batteries. ZABALA participates contributing its experience in the management of European technology platforms and in the dissemination and communication.

 

Good experiences

This positive dynamic has been reflected in the publication of different specific topics on batteries (BAT) in HORIZON 2020. In the BAT calls of 2019, ZABALA already supported two of the successful proposals, helping the two consortia to build their proposals and obtain € 10m.

 

Next opportunities

Now, in 2020 we found 8 new BAT topics with a total budget of € 132 million, in two calls: Next Generation Batteries, and Technologies for Future Batteries, and it is relevant to know that the latter be start of a 10 year large scale Research Initiative  that is being defined thanks to  the Battery 2030+ project https://battery2030.eu/

 

DATE

TOPIC

BUDGET M€

Open: 9 JUL 2019 Deadline: 16 JANUARY 2020

LC-BAT-12-2020 (RIA)

20

LC-BAT-12-2020 (RIA)

10

LC-BAT-12-2020 (RIA)

10

LC-BAT-12-2020 (RIA)

2

Open: 3 DIC 2019  Deadline: 21 APRIL 2020

LC-BAT-12-2020 (RIA)

40

LC-BAT-12-2020 (RIA)

20

LC-BAT-12-2020 (RIA)

20

LC-BAT-12-2020 (RIA)

10

 

TOTAL

132 M€

 

As Thore Sekkenes (European Battery Alliance) clearly stated last September 12 in the European Batteries SUMMIT organized by CIC EnergiGune, we are not in a normal scenario of competition and market: we are in a critical moment in which it is necessary to work and cooperate together in Europe, share information, share R&D, knowledge and compete together in a globalized market.

At ZABALA we are aware of the importance of the moment we live in the construction of a strong European battery ecosystem, and we aspire to continue with our role as facilitators and connectors, both in Horizon 2020 and in the next Horizon Europe.

 

Author: Juan Cristobal García

Senior Consultant on R&I and expert on Energy and Cities

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