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Europe faces ‘new era of energy dependency’

The EU has been pouring money into European battery manufacturing and recycling projects but has, as yet, been unable to address the critical question of raw materials, according to analyst WoodMac.

Despite the EU’s ambition to establish a self-sufficient battery industry, the need to import more than 75% of the materials needed to feed electric vehicle (EV) demand will usher in “a new era of energy dependency” by the bloc, according to U.S.-owned analyst Wood Mackenzie.

The Scotland-based, Verisk-owned data company has crunched the numbers to pull up some impressive figures about the scale of European battery production facilities which are being prepared.

Raw material sourcing

As part of pv magazine’s UP Initiative, we have focused on raw material sourcing in the energy storage industry. Read about material sourcing for batteries, lithium extraction in Chile, cobalt from the Congo, and the development of raw material recycling, and contact [email protected] to find out more.

However, the Can Europe secure a self-sufficient battery industry? report published by WoodMac yesterday stated a continued dependence on critical raw materials for the lithium-ion devices set to dominate the European energy storage market, will ensure the EU industry will be far from self-reliant in 2040.

The authors of the study pointed out Europe’s determination not to rely on batteries made outside the bloc drove the market to invest more in battery manufacturing in 2019 and 2020 than any other global region. A second important project of common European interest designation for a battery-related project this year allocated a further €2.9 billion of EU funds to the sector, with the aim of attracting another €9 billion from private investors, WoodMac added.

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With plans announced for 1.3 TWh of annual battery production capacity this decade, Europe could have the second largest battery manufacturing capacity in the world in 2030, behind China, to account for 27% of the global market and twice the anticipated level of EU demand. WoodMac pointed out that estimate is based on all the announced European projects taking shape, even though only 9% of them are already operating – 42% of those production lines are under construction and the remaining 49% are at an even earlier stage of development.

With the EU having decreed all new vehicles in the bloc must be zero-emission from 2035, it is EVs that will drive battery demand in a European market WoodMac estimates will be worth €572 billion in 2030, and €1.72 trillion a decade later.

Those big numbers, however, fail to address a raw material dependency that appears set to leave EU manufacturers at the mercy of extra-European supply chains, just as they are at present.

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Source: pv magazine