European battery stakeholders unite!

On 29th January 2019, the fifth meeting of the European Battery Alliance (EBA) took place in Brussels. As a partner to the initiative, Northvolt was pleased to be in attendance.

The meeting gathered together some 200 stakeholders from across the European battery industry, and it was an encouraging day for the European value chain for lithium-ion batteries.

In his opening remarks, keynote speaker Maroš Šefčovic (Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the energy union), who launched the EBA in October 2017, pointed out how far Europe has come since the launch of the alliance, with a number of new projects already underway along the battery value chain.

“We have to do it together and we have to act now if we want to have battery production in Europe,” said Diego Pavia, CEO of InnoEnergy, in opening the EBA meeting’s high-level workshop.

The value of collaboration

The EBA has partnership at its heart, and at Northvolt we could not agree more that this is the right direction to take. We know first-hand from our industrial partnerships with the likes of ABB, Scania, Vestas, BMW and others, that dialogue and collaboration drive us forward toward solutions. The EBA shares this ethos. It is a cooperative platform gathering together the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, industrial stakeholders, interested EU states, and a wide number of forward-thinking, innovative actors.

Providing a stage upon which to engage with one another, the EBA represents one of Europe’s strongest assets in our common pursuit of realizing a competitive manufacturing value chain in Europe, with sustainable battery cells at its core.

With the challenges of transitioning to a clean energy future ahead of us, now more than ever we need solidarity and partnership.

This is especially the case in the context of battery energy storage. For Europe to establish a footing with a domestic battery supply chain, we’re up against serious competition from the incumbent battery manufacturers of the world.

As Maroš Šefčovic has previously stated: “No single actor, no single country can manage this challenge on its own.”

There is much at stake. A European battery supply chain would bring tens of thousands of new jobs, security of supply for a product pitched to fulfil a pivotal role in future energy systems, and a market valued at up to €250 billion a year from 2025 onward according to the EBA.

Establishing sustainability and circular economies in a new European battery supply chain

A key focus of the EBA relates to something very close to Northvolt’s heart: sustainability and recycling. The EBA has a clear intent to enhance the reuse and recycling of battery materials. It’s an approach that is built right into the core of the Northvolt model.

Northvolt’s collaboration with the Industrial Materials Recycling group at Chalmers University, for instance, is centered around developing technology to develop and implement a sustainable solution for a large-scale battery recycling with low environmental impact utilizing hydrometallurgical techniques.

“With some 11 million tonnes of batteries expected to be discarded by 2030, this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss,” comments Emma Nehrenheim, Northvolt’s Chief Environment Officer.

“It is therefore key that the EU and the industrial companies involved throughout the value chain work together to create a framework that encourages recycling and recovery efforts in the coming years as European battery production ramps up production.”

To be sure, the EBA will play a very important role in this process, and at Northvolt we look forward to the work ahead of us.