Transport and Environment (T&E), “Europe’s leading clean transport campaign group”, has a plan. They believe Europe could be able to produce all the batteries it needs by 2027, without imports from China. It’s a laudable goal, and the idea is amazing since Europe is fast rushing to battery-powered electric vehicles, which consume lots of batteries.
The group imagines a European sovereignty fund to support domestic battery production, and streamlining of EU rules on state aid. Battery plants now take a long time to build, since there are considerable risks to their storage and manufacture.
According to the article, about half of Europe’s batteries are already sourced there. The EU is mandating electric vehicles by 2035, which sets up a big increase in demand for batteries.
The supply chains associated with electric vehicles are interesting and of crucial importance so that they will be accepted and effectively used. Batteries are a major element, and disruptions in the supply are not healthy for European manufacturers.
Here is the latest in a long series of supply chain catastrophes. China’s drought has severely affected hydroelectric power, and in the area of Sichuan province, factories have had mandatory power shutoffs. A number of these are chip factories and solar panel makers, as well as battery makers. All these are much-needed products for integration into items for consumers.
Shipping prices from China by ocean continue to fall, and these shutdowns will reduce the number of export containers. And according to Container xChange, the demand for empty containers for export is also lower than expected.
Well, who knows? I don’t see any calculations here. For instance, how many of these shipping container sized battery packs would it take to hold enough power for my apartment community (100 homes) for a rainy day when our solar panels (assuming we had them) would not work? One apartment’s worth? Two? A dozen?
For instance at the US Cold warehouse in Wilmington IL, we need to have power 100% of the time for refrigerated products that constantly arrive, are stored, and move out to retailers. How big a parking lot would we need for the containers full of batteries, in addition to the space we have for our inbound and outbound trucks? I can see how a power company might use some to support their solar or wind power efforts, perhaps securing a few sections in the Arizona desert to place the batteries next to the giant solar farm or wind farm deployed there.
It’s certainly a good idea to make batteries out of materials that are not too hazardous. And I think we are in a materials revolution right now that will change how we think about lots of problems.