Putting Europe at the forefront of the battery revolution

By: Francesco Gattiglio, Director EU Affairs, EUROBAT

The newly-elected Von Der Leyen Commission has been in office for only a few weeks, but its first proposal is already creating a lot of expectations in Brussels.

In announcing the European Green Deal, with billions of Euros earmarked to support a just transition, the Commission is preparing to deliver in full the EU’s decarbonisation goals. Some of the proposals included in the communication are indeed game changers, from the Carbon Border Tax to the new Industrial Strategy and the Circular Economy Action Plan, not forgetting the new Mobility Strategy with an emission reduction target of 90% by 2050.

All battery technologies will be instrumental in this shift: lead, lithium, sodium and nickel batteries will power the transition in the energy, mobility, logistics and telecommunications sectors.

While the Commission is focusing heavily on the role of lithium batteries, mostly due to their use as traction batteries for electric vehicles, other key technologies such as advanced lead batteries will play a critical and growing role in the energy transition, thanks to their affordability, sustainability, reliability and safety. These are batteries that are 99% recycled when collected, essentially making them the poster boys of the circular economy.

So 2020 will be the year of the European Green Deal, and the year of the battery revolution. We are at the start of a golden age for innovation and battery production – not just higher value batteries, but better batteries, more innovative, and more environmentally sustainable than before. This will be the defining standard of batteries made here in Europe.

The Commission will now work on the development of a coherent and ambitious legislative environment for batteries in Europe. It will publish its battery package in October 2020, including legislative proposal covering the entire value chain of batteries, from sustainable sourcing and production to end-of-life management.

This development was long due: the current legislative framework on batteries dates back to the early 2000s, when the recent technical developments in the batteries world where not even conceivable. Besides, several pieces of EU legislation are clearly overlapping, creating business uncertainties for those companies willing to invest into batteries production in Europe.

I am therefore looking forward to what the Commission has in store for 2020. In October, as part of its Battery Package, the Commission will revise its Batteries Directive (2006), End-of-life Vehicles Directive (2000) and will complement them with new sustainability criteria for batteries production, to ensure that batteries produced in Europe are green and produced with a low environmental footprint. This initiative will ultimately have the target to boost batteries production in Europe, as already highlighted in the European Battery Alliance. However, it will be fundamental to target all available batteries technologies: there is no one-size-fits-all in the battery business, and lead batteries will be needed in the foreseeable future to power the energy and mobility transition.

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