Europe in the Global Race for Electrical batteries Etudes de l'Ifri, July 2017
This study weighs up the different strategic approaches that Europe may adopt in the industrial race for electrical batteries, taking into account the demand potential for e-mobility and stationary storage, the global competitive landscape and the policy support for local players in Asia and the U.S.
The future looks bright for battery storage technologies. They could be the answer to the grid constraints that come with the rise of intermittent renewable electricity, while opening the door to the electrification of the transport sector and a reduction of its carbon footprint. Significant improvements in terms of performance and manufacturing costs have beeen achieved in recent years, thanks to the development of portable electronic devices and the push for lithium-ion solutions. The prospect of widening the client base to the automobile and energy industries is now triggering a massive wave of investment in battery manufacturing capacities. Economies of scale and increasing pressure on margins should make battery technologies even more affordable, and facilitate their adoption beyond public support schemes.
A true industrial race is launched, but it takes place primarily in Asia, and to a lesser extent in North America. In these regions, public authorities are already proactive in promoting local industrial players on a global market that is buoyant but still highly risky. Unless the European Union reacts swiftly, it could see its internal demand being primarily covered by non-European manufacturers. While the EU has strong academic and industrial assets in the battery field, it risks being left behind the new mass markets if it proves unable to support the European battery industry with concerted efforts. The challenge is twofold: seizing a major opportunity in terms of growth and job creation, while preventing the emergence of major technology dependence.
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