Finns and Europe Focus on Battery Development

The Finnish government has brought together a group of Finnish and major international companies together with universities and research bodies here to create a battery material eco-system to  develop battery technologies. 

The consortia have produced a comprehensive national strategy based on the raw materials for batteries found in the rich mineral deposits in Finland. The companies have substantial operations  in battery development from mining and metal production, all the way through to battery production, battery charging and recycling. All of the companies have strong R&D activities to support current and future innovations. Here is the link to the National Battery Strategy 2025

The companies involved are Fortum, Terrafame, Wärtsilä, BASF, Metso, Outec, Metso, Finnvera, Finnish Minerals Group, Valmet Automative, Sandvik, ABB, Keliber, Siemens, etc… 

All of the companies are committed to maintain the highest standards of sustainability and minimize their carbon footprint in production. 

All of the raw materials used will be traceable even when recycled.

The above eco-system is not only a collection of universities and research bodies but also includes large investments by the public sector in education an training to ensure that there is sufficient highly skilled pool of engineers and technicians to manage the demand for workers. 

This concerted effort fits in well with EU’s European Battery Alliance, an alliance of EU countries, the EIB and industry. The Alliance’s objective is to build battery technology and production capacity in the EU, which is crucial for low-emission mobility, energy storage, and Europe’s economic strategy. 

The Europeans are facing great challenges in the global battery markets in China, South Korea and Japan who took an early lead in establishing themselves as the main players with massive government support.

Europe is also facing competition from the USA, a huge and highly diversified market in all sectors  of the battery eco-system. There can be no doubt that cooperation will be possible between  Europe and the Americans ands it is expected that competition will drive efficiency, and that in itself is a healthy matter.

When the Alliance was launched, Europe had around 3% of the world market was mostly on foreign suppliers. Now it is expected that EU production will match demand by 2025. The alliance has already attracted the industrial participation of some 440 actors and around €100 billion in investment commitments. In line with the European Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Industrial Strategy, the Europeans are working on a competitive, circular, sustainable and safe value chain for all batteries placed on the EU market. The European Battery Alliance integrates with the Commission’s interests.

It is important to note that renewables rose to generate 38% of Europe’s electricity in 2020, for the first time overtaking fossil-fired generation, which fell to 37%. This development will continue given that financial resources, technology and demand from the general population is strong. New jobs and economic growth will be fuelled by this activity.

Then big competitors in Asia and North America will therefore being pushing hard for market efficiencies and market share. Given that Climate Change is now clearly on the agenda of all these three continents, one can only hope that investments start to flow quickly because the task is enormous.

It is important to put the size of the task in perspective. The world’s biggest banks have put $2.7 trillion into fossil fuel industries since the 2015 Paris Agreement. The 15 largest banks, like JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America, have lent over $1.2 trillion to fossil fuel investors. 

The total invested in renewables in the same period in the US was just some €150 billion. The banks must be cajoled into channelling finance into the renewable sector.

From 2009 to 2019, major public banks in China, Japan, and South Korea invested only $9 billion in solar and wind, but $79 billion in fossil fuels, making them the largest public financiers of fossil fuels globally.

China contributes nearly a third of the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. Roughly 60% of its energy use is derived from coal and it is the world’s second largest consumer of oil. 

The cost of a transition in China to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060 could reach $5 trillion – the scale of the financial challenge is substantial.

Graphics: Published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and Photo: Terrafame, Finland.

 

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