Significant funding for research is expected to help European manufacturers develop competitive technology.

The European Commission announced approval of €3.2 billion ($3.5 billion) public support by seven Member States (of the European Union) for a pan-European research and innovation project in all segments of the battery value chain. The general goal is to support European battery industry (treat as a strategic direction) to be able to compete with Asian manufacturers.

It's expected that 17 companies (including well known names like BMW, BASF and Fortum) from 7 countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden) will invest some €5 billion ($5.5 billion) for total of €8.2 billion ($9.1 billion) by 2031.

"The seven Member States will provide in the coming years up to approximately €3.2 billion in funding for this project, which is expected to unlock an additional €5 billion in private investments. The completion of the overall project is planned for 2031 (with differing timelines for each sub-project)."

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The biggest part of state aid falls on projects in Germany and France:

  • Germany up to approximately €1.25 billion
  • France up to approximately €960 million
  • Italy up to approximately €570 million
  • Poland up to approximately €240 million
  • Belgium up to approximately €80 million
  • Sweden up to approximately €50 million
  • Finland up to approximately €30 million

"The project

The transition to climate neutrality, including through clean and low emission mobility, will bring significant opportunities for economic growth, job creation and technological development. Demand for batteries is expected to grow very rapidly in the coming years. Forward-looking research, development and innovation policies will have a key role to enable Europe and its Member States to make the most of this transition. The Commission launched at the end of 2017 a “European Battery Alliance” with interested Member States and industrial actors and adopted a Strategic Action Plan for Batteries in May 2018.

Today's project is part of these efforts. It supports the development of highly innovative and sustainable technologies for lithium-ion batteries (liquid electrolyte and solid state) that last longer, have shorter charging times, are safer and more environmentally friendly than those currently available. The project involves ambitious and risky research and development activities to deliver beyond the state-of-the-art innovation across the batteries value chain, from mining and processing the raw materials, production of advanced chemical materials, the design of battery cells and modules and their integration into smart systems, to the recycling and repurposing of used batteries.

Innovation will also specifically aim at improving the environmental sustainability in all segments of the battery value chain. It aims to reduce the CO2 footprint and the waste generated along the different production processes as well as develop environmentally friendly and sustainable dismantling, recycling and refining in line with circular economy principles.

More specifically, the project participants and their partners will focus their work on four areas:

(1)  Raw and advanced materials: The project aims to develop sustainable innovative processes allowing extraction, concentration, refining and purification of ores to generate high-purity raw materials. With respect to advanced materials (such as cathodes, anodes and electrolytes), the project aims to enhance existing materials or create new ones, to be used in innovative battery cells.

(2)  Cells and modules: The project aims todevelop innovative cells and modules designed to meet the safety, and performance required for both automotive and non-automotive applications (e.g. stationary energy storage, power tools, etc.).

(3)  Battery systems: The project aims to develop innovative battery systems including battery management software and algorithms as well as innovative test methods.

(4)  Repurposing, recycling and refining: The project aims to design safe and innovative processes for collection, dismantling, repurposing, recycling and refining of recycled materials."

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President “Europe fit for the Digital Age” and Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said:

"Battery production in Europe is of strategic interest for our economy and society because of its potential in terms of clean mobility and energy, job creation, sustainability and competitiveness. Our Important Projects of Common European Interest smooth the way for public authorities and industries from several Member States to come together and design ambitious innovation projects with positive spill-over effects across industrial sectors and regions. The approved aid will ensure that this important project can go ahead without unduly distorting competition.”

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said:

“Our focus on scaling up innovation under the European Battery Alliance is yielding strong industrial partnerships. Thanks to intensive efforts by seven Member States, industry and the Commission, Europe's first major pan-European battery ecosystem is emerging, with lead projects in all segments of this strategic value chain. We have found the right recipe for our 21st century industrial policy: strong cooperation between industrial actors, concerted action to accelerate lab-to-market innovation, joined-up financial instruments from both, private and public sectors, and a fit-for-future regulatory framework to underpin a stronger European knowledge-based economy.”

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