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Germany as Europe's battery?

Fraunhofer ISI is monitoring battery cell production capacities in Europe on behalf of the German Ministry of Education and Innovation. If the current strong growth continues, production capacities in Europe could rise to as much as 1.5 TWh by the end of the decade - a large proportion of which would be in Germany.

 The planned gigafactory in Heide in the north of Germany is to be built starting next year (Image: Northvolt) The planned gigafactory in Heide in the north of Germany is to be built starting next year (Image: Northvolt)

There is a lot of momentum in the battery market. Putin's war of aggression in Ukraine has clearly shown the world how dependent many countries are on Russian raw materials for their energy supply - above all Germany, which has since been struggling to obtain its required natural gas elsewhere. In parallel, the renewables sector has gained new momentum - fear of energy shortages is driving many countries to install more wind turbines and more PV systems. And then there is climate change, with its extreme weather currently making it clearer than ever to people in Europe that our lifestyle urgently needs to change.

The topic of storage is linked to this. Whether it's storage for surplus wind and solar power or batteries for e-cars, whose sales are finally gaining momentum: batteries are more important than ever.

In its new analysis, the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI concludes that battery production in Europe will increase tenfold to up to 1.5 Twh by 2030. Germany could contribute just under 400 GWh to battery cell production - more than any other country in the EU.

Germany accounts for the largest share of currently planned battery factories (Image: Fraunhofer ISI).

Dr. Lukas Weymann of Fraunhofer ISI explains, "This rapid build-up is largely driven by European players such as Northvolt, VW and ACC. The three mentioned alone have announced about one-third of European cell production capacity."

Sweden's Northvolt is currently planning its large gigafactory in Heide in northern Germany, while two factories are already under construction in Sweden. The company explicitly cited the high proportion of renewable energy available in wind-rich Schleswig-Holstein as the reason.

The automakers themselves also want to manufacture batteries locally in the future instead of relying on Asian imports: VW is planning a plant in Salzgitter, Germany and one in Valencia, Spain. According to Weymann, the locations for three more cell factories have not yet been determined, but the planned maximum production capacity of 40 GWh, which each of these five factories could achieve in the final stage, has. Other manufacturers are also planning to build factories in Europe, as the EU is generously distributing subsidies as part of the 'Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI)' program.

The enormous demand for lithium-ion batteries is currently still being met mainly by manufacturers from China, Japan and South Korea. But the Corona pandemic has clearly shown to Europeans how quickly global supply chains can run into trouble. In addition, some non-European companies are also planning to set up gigafactories for battery production: CATL (China) and Tesla (USA) are just two examples of over 40 manufacturers that are currently planning projects in 15 European countries, according to announcements.

Katrin Radtke
battery, storage, Germany, EU, Europe, Northvolt, Tesla, production facility, Fraunhofer ISI, capacity

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