Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier

Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier

© BMWi/Susanne Eriksson

The European Commission gave the go-ahead today for the first large-scale European battery cell manufacturing project. This paves the way for the provision of funding for five German companies and companies from six other Member States with a view to building up battery value chains in Germany and Europe.

Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier said: “I am delighted that the European Commission has examined and approved the first large-scale European battery project within the space of just a few weeks. This is a great success for car-making in Germany and Europe. We want to build the most innovative and sustainable batteries in Germany and Europe, and thus to safeguard production and jobs in Europe. Our approach is therefore a holistic one, from materials to production and recycling. We now need to quickly get the projects up and running.”

At the initiative of Minister Altmaier, along with the French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, Germany and France have brought together the other participating Member States – Belgium, Finland, Italy, Poland and Sweden. The large-scale battery project which has now been approved is a first success for a more ambitious European industrial policy. The German companies BASF, BMW, Opel, Umicore and Varta are participating in the project:

BASF wants to use its battery materials to help build up a sustainable battery value chain for electric vehicles in Europe. Innovative cathode materials enhance the performance and cost efficiency of batteries and thus contribute to the development of climate-friendly mobility.

The research topics covered by the project will enable BMW Group to develop the details of the chemical composition, cell mechanics, cell design and production process. The battery cell manufacturers can build on this expertise and successfully industrialise it on a lasting basis.

Opel’s planned project includes innovative battery cell production at its Kaiserslautern site as part of a joint venture with PSA (its parent company) and Saft, the French battery manufacturer (part of the Total Group). The project partners will now prepare the final verification of the project prior to the taking of a final decision.

Umicore will help to develop a sustainable battery in Europe in which innovative technologies, responsible procurement and the completion of the material cycle via recycling are key factors determining the success.

Varta intends to target new markets and applications using novel, innovative battery solutions in the field of lithium-ion technology, and to press ahead with battery cell production in larger cell formats. In this way, Varta is making an important contribution towards the expansion of the German battery industry as a key enabling technology of the future.

The Commission has responded to the companies’ request for a lean scrutiny procedure and has acted very swiftly to issue the approval under state aid rules. The Economic Affairs Ministry now also intends to swiftly approve the funding for the five German companies. At the beginning of 2020, Ministers Le Maire and Altmaier will jointly lay the foundation stone for the pilot facility in France. In the mid-2020s at the latest, battery cells are to be manufactured on an industrial scale in Germany as well.

At present, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is working on two large-scale battery innovation projects with German and European industry. They are being implemented as Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs) and involve projects from a large number of European Member States.

The second business alliance was submitted by way of prenotification to the European Commission at the end of November 2019. It consists of nine German firms and companies and research establishments from another ten European Member States.

The projects in the two IPCEIs cover the entire battery value chain from raw materials and functional materials to cell manufacturing and integration, re-use and recycling. The aim is that the value chain built up in Germany and Europe should be a technological innovator whilst also meeting the highest standards in terms of sustainability and carbon intensity of production. For this reason, the project covers both research and innovation as well as the industrialisation of new technologies. The Economic Affairs Ministry is providing more than a billion euros of funding to the two projects.