This content is relevant for:Environmental Technologies / Coronavirus / Incentives / Energy Storage & Fuel Cell Industry / Recycling & Waste Management
“Europe's recovery will be green! The new budget will power the European Green Deal.”
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, declared this noteworthy statement in her opening remarks at the joint press conference with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, following the Special European Council meeting of July 17-21, 2020.
The statement was a very important one, taking into account that, within the European Green Deal, the Commission will consider legal requirements to boost the market for secondary raw materials with mandatory recycled content (for instance, for vehicles and batteries). Furthermore, it will propose legislation in 2020 to ensure a safe, circular and sustainable battery value chain for all batteries. The European Commission is thereby planning to set binding standards for cell manufacturing this year: from raw materials and production processes through to cell recycling.
Germany aims to have 7 to 10 million EVs on the country’s roads by 2030. Government-backed incentives of up to EUR 9,000 are available to purchasers of new EVs and hybrid vehicles. While the total share of electric vehicles in Germany is still low, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority reported an increasing growth in numbers of newly registered EVs and hybrids in 2019 and 2020. Germany is stepping up the pace with regard to charging infrastructure. The German Federal Association for Energy and Water (BDEW) noted an increase of 50 percent in new public charging stations from 2019 to 2020. The share of public fast-charging stations lies at 14 percent. Some federals states also support the installation of private wall boxes.
Within Germany’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Package, agreed by the governing coalition at the start of June, the German government is investing an additional EUR 2.5 billion in accelerating R&D for e-mobility and battery cell production. It is therefore not surprising that we are seeing increased volume in investments – including CATL in Thuringia, Northvolt in Lower Saxony, Farasis in Saxony-Anhalt, and most recently Tesla in Brandenburg – in EV batteries.
In light of the constantly growing fields of application for batteries, the current leaps in technical development and the increasing demand for modern storage technologies, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) is already actively involved in the consultation processes at the European level. The EU Commission plans to present a corresponding regulatory proposal this autumn. According to the BMU, the amendments to the existing legal framework for batteries are intended in particular to improve the sustainability of the battery value chain for e-mobility and increase the recycling potential of all batteries.
Germany already hosts several battery recycling plants, some of them still in the pilot stage. Since 2016, Accurec Recycling GmbH has operated a plant in Krefeld, which is to be expanded in 2021. Duesenfeld GmbH uses a hydrometallurgical process in their plant in Wendeburg. Another pioneer in this field is Redux Recycling GmbH with its plant in Bremerhaven. Further operations are planned by several companies including Volkswagen AG in Salzgitter, Primobius GmbH, a joint venture between German SMS Group and Australian Neometals Ltd., and Roth Recycling GmbH in Wernberg-Köblitz. Several research institutes are also planning pilot plants within their research projects. These include the RWTH Aachen University as well as the MEET Battery Research Center at Münster University and the Ministry of Economy of the State of North Rhine Westphalia (MWIDE) who build up a center for circular value creation.
By recycling batteries, Germany will play a relevant role in providing access to secondary raw materials. Within this context, Dr. Falko Schappacher from the MEET Battery Research Center at University of Münster has stated, “…with EV batteries, the recovery of critical raw materials goes hand in hand with reasonable dismantling. Only if this process is fully automated will it really become efficient and profitable. Therefore, finding a technology to open and dismantle batteries adequately would currently not only enable business opportunities but is also a relevant aspect in connection with efficient e-mobility. With AI and Industry 4.0, we in Germany are well placed to tackle this challenge. The research activities on battery recycling at MEET are a good start in this context. The Research Fab Battery Cells in Münster, in the center for circular value creation, also has plenty of room for new companies”.
In the near future, the number of batteries being retired from automotive applications can be expected to grow significantly. A substantial share of European closed-loop e-mobility value chains is also expected to be situated in Germany. Nevertheless, there remain many challenges ahead. According to the Fraunhofer Institute for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS, one of the challenges is the need to increase the proportion of recycled material returned to production processes, and the amount of recycled material used in new batteries. And that’s not to mention the need for flexibility when faced with different system designs, cell types and material compositions. Re-use concepts for used battery systems, modules, cells and components also need to be established.
The length and breadth of Germany, players along the entire value chain - from material manufacturers, cell and system manufacturers, plant constructors, and car manufacturers all the way through to logistics and recycling companies – are tackling these challenges and establishing forward-looking recycling processes. However, this continues to require cooperation and joint development – at national and European levels.
The EU and Germany are advocating a battery industry that contributes not only to clean energy, but the circular economy as well. Among other things, the variety of projects within the German value chain and need for innovative technologies will open up business opportunities for German subsidiaries of foreign companies as well.
Implementing all these solutions requires the public and private sectors to work hand in hand. This is why strong support is available to enterprises considering investing in battery recycling in Germany.
Enterprises that are planning, for example, to establish a facility in the promising German market can take advantage of a wide range of financing and incentive instruments. Direct grants and other instruments – such as public promotional loans, public guarantees and equity capital – can reduce investment costs significantly in designated support areas.
Support is on hand for new market players
Closing the e-mobility loop in Germany offers innovative foreign companies a range of potential areas for growth. GTAI’s industry experts Flérida Regueira Cortizo and Anne Bräutigam will happily discuss how you can grow your sustainable business in Germany.