Batteries are crucial for a clean future. But where will those batteries for electric cars, for example, be made in the future: in China, the USA or in Europe? The European Commission launched plans last week to secure battery production for Europe. But will those have an effect?
“This building has just opened and is already too small.”Co-founder Jeroen Bleker of Eleo points to a building site next to his brand new battery factory in Helmond. “So we’re expanding so we can scale up here.”
What started as a student project of TU Eindhoven has grown seven years later into a company with seventy employees. “We had developed an electric motorcycle,” says Bleker. “Then we thought: now let’s focus on electrification and on the most crucial component, the battery.”Eleo now makes battery systems for electric construction machines.
The company is still relatively small, but the ambitions are big. Because whoever makes batteries has the future, says Professor of automotive engineering Maarten Steinbuch from TU Eindhoven. “The battery is the most important part of a car today.”
But it goes much further, says Steinbuch. “If we have a lot of sun during the day, we can collect energy in batteries and use it at night for heat pumps and heating. Batteries are therefore an essential part of the entire energy transition.”
For batteries, Europe is still very dependent on China. China produces by far the most electric cars. and that applies even more to their batteries. Steinbuch: “we all know about the dependence on Russian gas and oil. Something like this could also happen with batteries, if we do not have battery factories ourselves. The battery will be the most essential part of the future society in terms of energy.”
And so the battery is now part of a geopolitical battle. With billions in subsidies and tax breaks, US President Joe Biden wants to lure producers of sustainable technologies to America with his Inflation Reduction Act.
This has consequences for Europe. At the moment, so-called giga battery factories are being planned everywhere for the production of batteries for electric cars. the most ambitious plans have Germany, where Tesla, among others, wanted to build a battery factory.
But last month, Tesla decided to put the plans on hold because of the US billion-dollar subsidies for green investments. And Volkswagen is now also opting for a battery factory outside Europe: the German carmaker will produce batteries in Canada, although the company also has plans for factories in the European Union.
About the author: Jeff Roper
Jeff Roper has been teaching journalism for more than five years. A theorist who nevertheless took up some practice. He is fond of the history of journalism and journalism.