Elec­tro­mo­bil­i­ty as a dri­ver for ener­gy storage

“Despite the Coro­na pan­dem­ic, the Ger­man bat­tery mar­ket is on an upward trend. The vol­ume of the mar­ket for lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies in par­tic­u­lar has increased enor­mous­ly,” said Chris­t­ian Eck­ert, ZVEI Man­ag­ing Direc­tor Bat­ter­ies, at a ZVEI press brief­ing today. The Ger­man bat­tery mar­ket grew 35 per­cent over­all last year to €5.9 bil­lion, accel­er­at­ing its growth com­pared to 2019. Lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies account­ed for the largest share of the mar­ket at EUR 3 bil­lion. The seg­ment grew by 63 per­cent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year.

The mar­ket vol­ume for lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies is due in part to the high growth in imports of bat­tery cells to Ger­many. While the major­i­ty of bat­tery imports in 2019 came from Asia, Europe caught up with Asia as an import region. For exam­ple, total Euro­pean bat­tery imports of just under 3.8 bil­lion euros, 79 per­cent above the pre­vi­ous year, rep­re­sent 52 per­cent of the total import vol­ume. It is impor­tant to know that although most bat­tery cells are import­ed to Ger­many, it is the man­u­fac­tur­ers in this coun­try who use their spe­cial know-how to pro­duce the com­plex bat­tery sys­tems from the cells.

“Bat­ter­ies are among the key tech­nolo­gies of the future,” Eck­ert said. “With­out lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies, no elec­tric vehi­cle, e‑bike, smart­phone or defib­ril­la­tor will run.” While elec­tro­mo­bil­i­ty and the expan­sion of renew­able ener­gies are dri­ving demand for lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies in par­tic­u­lar, the lead-acid bat­tery remains impor­tant for numer­ous appli­ca­tions: “Lead-acid bat­ter­ies play a major role in unin­ter­rupt­ible pow­er sup­plies in hos­pi­tals and data cen­ters.” In addi­tion, there is still hard­ly any elec­tric vehi­cle that can do with­out a lead-acid bat­tery as an on-board battery.

The bat­tery is also cru­cial to achiev­ing the EU’s cli­mate pro­tec­tion tar­gets. “We can only achieve the goals of the Euro­pean Green Deal with the var­i­ous bat­tery tech­nolo­gies, because they are the pre­req­ui­site for the decar­bon­i­sa­tion of the trans­port sec­tor as well as the stor­age of renew­able ener­gies,” Eck­ert explained. The ongo­ing revi­sion of the Euro­pean bat­tery leg­is­la­tion will fur­ther strength­en the exist­ing cir­cu­lar econ­o­my and sus­tain­abil­i­ty of batteries.

In order to sur­vive in inter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tion, it is also essen­tial that Europe remains tech­no­log­i­cal­ly sov­er­eign in key tech­nolo­gies such as bat­ter­ies. Accord­ing to Eck­ert, Euro­pean fund­ing pro­grammes such as the Impor­tant Projects for Com­mon Euro­pean Inter­est (IPCEI) can make an impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion to this. “With a strong Euro­pean bat­tery indus­try, Europe can safe­guard its strate­gic inter­ests based on a mul­ti­lat­er­al glob­al econ­o­my,” Eck­ert concluded.