Europe is already home to a strategically autonomous battery industry: we should value it

Europe is already home to a strategically autonomous battery industry: we should value it

Europe’s lead battery industry is a prime example of a strategically autonomous value chain where advanced batteries are sourced, manufactured and recycled in the EU. We must work together to nurture – not hinder – industries capable of supporting green growth and advancing electrification and decarbonisation.

By: Dr. Christian Rosenkranz, VP Industry & Governmental Relations EMEA, Clarios

Just months after it was published members of the European Parliament have called on the European Commission to revise its industrial strategy.

Such is the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that legislators and policymakers are rapidly rethinking how the bloc can protect its interests, reduce reliance on others for vital raw materials, generate green growth and help nurture sustainable industries. And to achieve all this while undergoing a fundamental transformation to a low carbon economy.

Tom Berendsen MEP, of the EPP group in the European parliament put it like this:  “Europe’s industrial strategy must foster our strategic autonomy.

He added: “We need to invest in our own production, in our companies and in research, development and innovation… Otherwise, the EU risks becoming too dependent on other parts of the world for many vital products such as batteries.”

He gets to the essence of what an industrial strategy should include: creating the best possible conditions enabling industries to thrive and grow, sustainably. To achieve that we need consistency and a proportionate and co-operative approach to regulation.

While Europe’s lead battery industry may not be the largest value chain in scale – we employ more than 20,000 people across 15 members states – it is strategically highly significant. Our batteries underpin many other vital products and services. From the start-stop batteries in your vehicle, to the back-up power in hospitals tackling the pandemic. And from forklift trucks in warehouses, to the uninterrupted power supply mobile phone networks rely on. Even most electric vehicles include an auxiliary lead battery to power essential safety systems.

We excel in our advanced manufacturing techniques. Our track record of fully recycling the batteries we produce in a closed loop is a global standard we are rightly proud of. More than 80% of a new European-made lead battery uses recycled materials.

Meanwhile, we continue to produce new and innovative batteries, many supporting renewables energy storage; you can see numerous examples of these in an interactive map produced by research hub, the Consortium for Battery Innovation.

Another key attribute of a successful industrial strategy is to create the right conditions for research and innovation. EUROBAT’s Battery Innovation Roadmap 2030 provides an overview of the potential for battery innovation across all technologies, including lead.

Above all we need to support an eco-system of different battery technologies, which are made in Europe and recycled in Europe. As an industry we will work constructively with policymakers to ensure we support green growth, innovation and a low carbon future. We share the same goals.

Read more for why Europe needs an electrifying battery plan for a low carbon future.

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