Based on the growth in the need for EV batteries one would expect that simply the transition from lab to pilot to giga plants would be enough. The trend on sustainability however is challenging this transition even more since especially the European governments and consumers are requesting green batteries. Where the limits initially were set by the governments, we see now that consumer groups and automotive OEM’s are raising the bar and demand cleaner batteries than governments defined within their sustainable goals for 2025 and beyond.
What sustainable manufacturing eventually will mean cannot be specified yet. It is clear that the public discussion about responsible entrepreneurship is still going and that companies still struggle with the application of the new insights. Where the EU demands bigger (mostly listed) companies to report more on their sustainable efforts, we see the struggle of these companies and smaller companies are even more behind. However by doing so the EU puts pressure on the whole supply chain. In particular the production of new batteries which is at the moment still mostly within Asia, needs to be sustainable re-invented. Openly the EU also sees this as a competitive advantage and opportunity to organize their own supply chain and threatens even to use the sustainability sword to keep dirty batteries out from their own market.
These regulations around and consumers awareness of cleaner batteries are the challenge for equipment manufacturers for battery lines. Of course these goals are mostly determined by the design of the battery itself, but the race towards cheaper and cleaner batteries calls for immediate actions to develop new kinds of production lines for batteries. At least in Europe, but the impact on suppliers in China, US and other parts of the world, is inevitable. The need to follow to gain market share and they need to do it before the sustainability virus is commonly spread in their own backyard. We see Chinese government taking over this rapidly.
The economical aspects behind the lack of availability of the right proper basic materials in Europe are prioritizing this even more. The dependency of this continent on others is too big and cannot hold if (political) circumstances change. Therefore a process in which recycling of these materials is economical possible, needs to be developed within the recycling process itself and the initial manufacturing process of the battery. In other words: the battery must be able to get recycled. This circular thinking is a starting point in the design batteries cells or packs and of manufacturing equipment.