Electric batteries are seen as important technological enablers to drive the transition towards a decarbonized society through the integration of renewable and clean energy sources in the electricity grid and the electrification of our transport system.
However, there are some challenges if we want to fulfill this ambition in Europe. Firstly, research and development on batteries is notably fragmented within the European Union. Secondly, most of the production of the new generation of (automotive) batteries is currently happening in Asia.
The European Commission wants to change this and has therefore installed a specific approach (part 7 of the SET plan) to make sure the next generation of batteries will be developed and manufactured in the EU.
The kick-off for this plan was the launch of the European Battery Alliance in 2017. This was a first step towards working and planning together which in turn led to the European strategic plan on batteries. One result of this strategic plan has been the European Technology and Innovation Platform on Batteries (ETIP Batteries Europe) that groups all the relevant R&D actors in this sector and is a more intensified collaboration than the European Battery Alliance. The strategy has these objectives:
- Secure and sustainable access to raw materials which also includes the process of recycling used materials
- Make the value chain in the EU more competitive and to stimulate the scaling up of the battery cell industry
- Strengthen industrial leadership through accelerated research and innovation support
- Develop and strengthen a highly skilled workforce along the whole value chain to close the skills gap
- Support the sustainability of EU battery cell manufacturing industry with the lowest environmental footprint possible
- Ensure consistency with the broader EU regulatory framework
To boost this planned strategy, the European Commission has launched an ambitious separate R&D activity on batteries within horizon 2020. This is a cross-cutting activity involving multiple sectors (transport, energy, climate) and the calls for proposals are looking for different types of batteries and technologies: short term research for advanced Li-ion electrochemistry and production processes, short to medium term research for solid-state electrochemistry, modelling tools, new materials for stationary electric batteries, hybridization of battery systems, next generation batteries for stationary energy storage, next generation and validation of battery packs and battery management systems, networking of pilot lines and skills development and training.