Speech at the European Technology and Innovation Platform launch; Brussels. [CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY]

Dear members of the European Technology and Innovation Platform (BatteRIes Europe),

Dear participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour to address you today.

This is the first meeting of BatteRIes Europe. It is an important day to lay the ground-work for this collaborative platform.

I would like to take a step back and politically contextualise this important initiative.

Decarbonisation of the economy is key to reaching our long-term goal of net zero emissions, with electrification of road transport playing a major role.

In line with the recently adopted European Council conclusions, the institutions “will continue to advance work on the conditions, the incentives and the enabling framework to ensure transition to a climate-neutral EU”.

The stakes are high. As the leaders recalled: we must ensure compliance “with the Paris Agreement, preserve European competitiveness, as well as ensure a just and socially balanced transition”.

As a vast majority of Member States expressed, I do hope that the final guidance to be given by the end of the year will foresee climate neutrality by 2050.

The European Battery Alliance was set up to enable EU actors to join forces throughout the value chain, to accelerate the energy transition and capture a fast expanding market (250 billion euros / year by 2025, as estimated by InnoEnergy).

Bloomberg New Energy Outlook forecasts that by 2040 57% of new vehicle sales will have batteries (80% of buses, 60% of cars, below 40% for medium and large commercial vehicles).

Our aim is to convert our strong research and innovation potential into real competitive edge in this rapidly growing sector.

And to be ready before the hockey stick on EV sales (production to take off by 2023/2025).

From the outset we have recognised that the industry was in the driving seat. Your leadership is illustrated by all the flagship projects that are now taking off (Northvolt, Saft, Umicore, BASF, and many more)

Public authorities proved they were ready to work together in support. We - Member States, European Investment Bank, the Commission are acting as enablers (or facilitators).

And to this end, we must mobilise a wide set of resources, as detailed in our action plan:

  • The traditional ones : our legislation (first major economy to build our commitment into legally binding packages - clean energy and mobility) but also :
  • Support to our industrial leadership through:
  • Member States’ cooperation (IPCEI);
  • Regional partnerships on innovation (smart specialisation);
  • the Commission and the European Investment Bank working in tandem (to support manufacturing projects);
  • partnering up also with the financial community at large (joint fund with Bill Gates ; launch today of the Business Investment Platform for batteries)
  • and last but not least innovation-proof regulatory requirements – and standards - to promote our competitive advantage in sustainable battery production and use;

Let me expand on some of these points.

Legislative instruments

- Electricity

The Electricity Market Design Directive will be a key instrument to enable new market players, increase competition for electricity and energy storage.

That Directive gives also a crucial role to the consumers, including final consumers, to become active market participants in the energy transition.

- Mobility

We have new CO2 emission standards for car until 2030.

We also now have the agreement on the revision of the Directive on Clean Vehicles. Binding minimum targets at national level for public procurement of vehicles will be the driver for procuring zero and low emissions vehicles.

The EU has also set the first-ever CO2 emission performance standards for heavy-duty lorries.

Industrial leadership

I am pleased to say that industry has picked up this challenge with investments and projects announced - and launched - throughout the whole value chain.

European Investment Bank has provided significant loans to Northvolt so that they can build a pilot line (EUR 52.5 million supported by Innovfin) and a gigafactory (EUR 350 million supported by EFSI).

BASF’s invested in battery material processing (EUR 400 million);

Umicore’s invested in Belgium and Poland on battery materials (EUR 660 million); and

other substantial cells manufacturing projects and consortia in place and emerging from Sweden, France, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Finland and other Member States.

Cooperation with the Member States

We see in their National Energy Climate Plans that many are developing not only important plans for the deployment of charging infrastructure and alternative fuels, but also for the next generation of batteries manufacturing.

In addition, the Important Projects of Common European Interest allow Member States to make substantial investment into innovative pan-European projects (up until first deployment).

Several EU Member States have already launched processes to identify potential consortia and are working together to design one or more Important Projects of Common European Interest in this field.

We expect the first notification in the upcoming weeks thanks to excellent cooperation with France, Germany and many other countries.

Cooperation with the regions

This commitment is being matched at the regional level. 27 regions have committed to support battery related projects and have teamed up to strengthen their competitive innovation ecosystems and identify potential projects for which they can mobilise regional funding.

They have been brought together in the Commission’s ‘Smart Specialisation Partnership on Advanced Battery Materials’.

Sustainability requirements and standards

We are also working fast to develop a robust regulatory framework to establish minimum performance and sustainability criteria for batteries placed on the EU market. These will be underpinned by European standards

We want to be the best at producing the highest performing and greenest batteries, with responsible sourcing, the lowest carbon footprint and the highest level of recyclability and re-use.

Why devote so much effort and resources to this objective?

Europe has traditionally been a global leader and front-runner in all aspects of automotive design and production.

If Europe is to retain its global leadership, it needs to be the lead manufacturer, and not just a customer, of sustainable batteries.  

Now turning to The BatteRIes Europe Initiative

I see BatteRIes Europe as the research and innovation pillar of the European Battery Alliance.

It provides a global umbrella for all batteries research and innovation.

I like to think of it as a privilege place for collaboration across different actors, sectors and funding instruments.

BatteRIes Europe brings together research, industry and public authorities over the whole value chain, and involve Member States and regions. 

We do not start from scratch – BatteRIes Europe builds on work previously performed on battery Research and Innovation under the Integrated SET-Plan and Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda.

It also benefits from the impressive industrial ecosystem set up by Innoenergy (EBA250)

I understand that this afternoon you will be looking into 6 work streams for this initiative to cover the entire value chain

In each segment we need to be able to realistically assess our strengths, and take collective ownership of our ambitious climate and industrial objectives

I can assure you Commission services will be in support. Their involvement in BatteRIes Europe will ensure possibility to learn about different funding possibilities throughout the innovation cycle.

We need to push the boundaries and think (or work) across silos. Sector integration is key. 

As means of example, we need to develop bi-directional batteries / charging which are fully interoperable (vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-home).

I hope that you will therefore address, amongst other things, this interface of batteries with e-Mobility and Smart Grids.

And I am quite sure that our “policy” DGs present, and the EU standardisation bodies will also contribute forcefully.

Conclusion

Thanks to the commitment of a number of key industrial actors, regions and Member States, we are beginning to see a number of pieces of the puzzle falling into place.

The European Battery Alliance is proving to be a good example of 21st century European industrial policy, as my friend Andrew McDowell from the EIB has coined it.

We see European companies that are prepared to take the lead and are walking the talk by making significant investments.

We see a vibrant research and innovation ecosystem that covers the entire innovation cycle (from fundamental research to commercialisation)

We have the Commission joining forces with the Member States, the regions, the EIB and private investors.

Talking of which, I also welcome that today we will launch the first ever match-making platform between project promoters and investors in the field of batteries.

The target of this Investment Platform as I understand from Innoenergy would be to have an additional deal flow of EUR 70 billion (financial transactions) in the next three years.

I can guarantee that the political momentum will be sustained on this file.

The projects that have been announced, or are in the pipeline, are all different in nature and size. They are based on each participant's distinctive feature and this should precisely the basis for our competitive advantage, globally.

BatteRIes Europe will thrive on this diversity.

We therefore have an ambitious agenda ahead of us but the industrial lead combined with political momentum makes us unstoppable.

As Nelson Mandela put it: “it is impossible, until it’s actually done”.

I believe that we are proving this has become the motto of the Battery Alliance as well as BatteRies Europe Initiative!