“EVs will not crash our power grids, as some people misleadingly report. On the contrary, Batteries on Wheels shows that EVs can spare Europe’s grids from costly upgrades and allow more renewables to come online faster. But for this to happen, Europe’s governments have to set up systems for EVs to be charged at the right time of the day, for example during daytime in sunny countries.”
10th June 2019, Government Europa.eu
A new report has found a widespread shift from fossil fuels to zero carbon transport could save Member States ‘billions of euros’.
The ‘Batteries on Wheels’ report, commissioned by Transport & Environment (T&E), found that full electrification of road transport across France, Italy, Spain and the UK could save each country between €500m and €1.3bn. The full savings would be conditional on significant investment in infrastructure to support electric mobility, as well as the deployment of ‘smart charging’ – where the majority of electric vehicle (EV) charging is conducted at times when the energy grid is experiences lower demand – and improved EV battery recycling capabilities.
Figures released by the UK’s National Grid show that by 2030 there will be around 11 million electric vehicles on the UK’s roads; which national authorities must address by ensuring the requisite infrastructure is in place to fully support zero carbon transport. Smart charging would minimise the need to build additional power plants, as well as providing an outlet for excess renewable energy which cannot easily be reintegrated into the grid. The report warns, however, that the EU does not yet have the mechanisms in place to easily recycle the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles; and urges the implementation of more ambitious EU targets on EV battery recycling.
T&E’s clean vehicles and e-mobility manager, Julia Poliscanova, said: “EVs will not crash our power grids, as some people misleadingly report. On the contrary, Batteries on Wheels shows that EVs can spare Europe’s grids from costly upgrades and allow more renewables to come online faster. But for this to happen, Europe’s governments have to set up systems for EVs to be charged at the right time of the day, for example during daytime in sunny countries. Recycling is not only a key pillar of sustainable production, it also has huge potential to keep critical metals such as cobalt and lithium in Europe, creating new green and ethical industries and jobs along the way.”
Electrification of transport in the EU key to achieving carbon targets
Bo Normark of InnoEnergy and the European Battery Alliance spoke to Government Europa about how electrification of transport is vital to emissions reduction in the EU.
As Europe looks towards creating a greener future for energy consumption, governments need to tackle the infrastructure challenges and harness the use of renewables, including the electrification of transport. Utilising renewables will help to drive development and contribute to emissions reduction objectives, as well as modernising our cities.
One project spearheading the drive towards electric vehicles becoming the dominant mode of personal transport in Europe is the European Battery Alliance (EBA), a cooperative endeavor between 250 different companies, researchers and academics who have come together to develop a European battery value chain and help governments understand the efficacy of this market in helping to meet European objectives.
Bo Normark, thematic leader of Smart Grids and Electric Storage at InnoEnergy, spoke to Government Europa about the EBA’s objectives and how electrification of Europe’s transport system is a vital element of carbon emissions reduction, offering both economic and environmental benefits. InnoEnergy is driving the industrial development programme of the EBA known as EBA250.
What is the structure of the EBA and what are the aims and motivations of the EBA250 initiative?
The EBA initiative started in 2017 when we were asked by the European Commission to write a white paper about how Europe can become a leader in the electric battery field and how a battery ecosystem can be built in Europe.
One key point from the paper is that in order to be successful, Europe can not only think about building cell factories: it has to be active across the entire value chain, from raw materials to building active materials and cells, from applications to recycling and the second-life of batteries. The other key message is about scale – we have to evolve and build big factories as we cannot compete with small factories. This means we cannot wait for the next technologies. We have to trust that we can build now and develop our factories over time to cope with new technologies.
When the EBA was formed it was very small; there was only ten companies. Now it has gained traction: we have over 250 companies, research institutes and academia. We have had a number of meetings where we have identified actions that can be taken to support the development of a sustainable and competitive battery ecosystem.
The European Commission has mandated the European Investment Bank to set aside money to give loans to battery factories. It has presented a new initiative called Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI), whereby countries agree they will jointly develop industrial projects in the area of batteries. The IPCEI allows Member States to subsidise these investments. Germany, for instance, has set aside €1 billion so that projects can draw from these resources. France has also set aside €700 million and a number of countries and companies have declared that they will operate in building research factories.
How is the European battery industry going to grow in the coming years and what role will the EBA and the EBA250 initiative play in market development?
The industry is set to grow very fast – faster than the current predictions have laid out. Volkswagen for example has recently increased its projected electric vehicle sales by 50 per cent. A corner stone of the EBA is that we must see cooperation along the value chain between companies.
Currently, we are seeing a number of very interesting industrial collaborations making agreements with suppliers for cell producers, who have in turn made agreements with mining companies. We are also seeing cooperation in regard to recycling.
Unless we electrify, we have no chance of meeting the European emission targets for vehicles. Norway has already below the 2030 target, as they have high levels of electrification of transport and strong subsidies. In the next few years we will see increasingly affordable electric cars. European automakers have made up their mind – German makers have decided that the next generation of vehicles will be battery vehicles: not hybrid, but full electric.
How will the grid cope with the transition to full electrification of transport systems in the EU?
We have to differentiate between energy and power. In terms of energy, we will not have a problem because energy consumption for electric vehicles is relatively low. For example, in Sweden if we electrified 100 per cent of transport that would lead to an additional electricity consumption of around 10 percent. In the next four years Sweden will increase the production of wind power to make up for that additional electric energy.
Regarding power, this is much trickier. Electric vehicles can be a pain, or they can be a gain. Because modern electric cars have such large batteries, it is only when driving on freeways that they will need to be charged along the road. Otherwise, they can be charged in homes or at workplaces. Tests are also taking place to see how we can use electric vehicles to support the grid by controlling the charging and discharging of Electric Vehicles.
High power chargers will need to be installed and Member States will likely need local storage to support the grid. There certainly are challenges, but there are technical solutions to these challenges.
What challenges will this market and the EBA face from external competition, legislation or infrastructure?
The EBA has contributed to changing the mentality in Europe – to make others realise we can build a healthy battery industry. Before the alliance many people – and companies – did not believe it was possible to make the move towards full electrification of transport, but today it is a different story. The EBA can compete in this market with a comprehensive action plan – initially we need to import skills and equipment. We also have to take care of our recycling schemes. It is rewarding to see that in such a short scale of time companies are cooperating across the value chain and that there is also a lot of engagement from the Commission and Member States.
How can the EBA work collaboratively to help develop the industry and meet clean energy objectives?
We have brought in people from the finance and industry sectors to show how attractive this market is; and we have also started a campaign to involve the Member States by bringing them onto the same page. This way we can feed opportunities and help Member States and industry to cooperate on a national level.
This will be rolled out in at least five more countries over the next five months. A lot of governments have not yet seen the magnitude of this industrial project, but we have local investors involved who say they have to speak more with their governments.
The EBA is on a mission to expand the electrification of our transport, power and industrial sector. This alliance is a beautiful example of what the European Union can achieve.
Thematic leader of Smart Grids and Electric Storage at InnoEnergy, European Battery Alliance
+46 (0)70 608 80 20
Batteries are the key technology enabling the decarbonisation of transport, and the value of the materials within them (both in absolute terms and strategically for Europe) has resulted in the development of policies and regulations around battery reuse and recycling, with the European Commission (EC) looking to review its Battery Directive in 2020. However, what is also emerging is the potential for batteries to work synergistically with the power system, providing a range of services that can increase renewable energy uptake, reduce constraints on networks, and provide security of energy supply. Performance requirements for grid support batteries are lower than those for electric vehicles, which points to grid support being a key second life application for EV batteries.
This study builds onto the EV deployment scenarios previously developed by Element Energy for the European Climate Foundation1, combining the EU’s push to limit the emissions of new vehicles and feedback from car OEMs. Although currently in early phase, the uptake of electric vehicles in Europe is expected to accelerate through the mid-2020s. Whilst in 2025 only 10% of the total European new vehicle sales will consist of zero and low emission vehicles2 (ZLEVs), this number is expected to increase to 25% in 2030 under the baseline case. Within ZLEVs, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) would be the dominant powertrain technology from early 2020s.
This would mean that in 2030 85% of the vehicle stock will still be powered by internal combustion engines (ICE). However, by 2050, electric vehicles are expected to dominate the stock, reducing the proportion of ICE cars to 20%. Due to the uptake of ZLEV ramping-up in the mid-2020s, most of the 1 17.5 million electric vehicles on Europe’s roads in 2030 will be relatively young. However, around 125,000 older electric vehicles will be retired that year, and their batteries will be recovered. Around 15% of these batteries would be too deteriorated for second life applications and will be sent to
recycling, generating almost 2,800 tonnes of valuable metals. On the other hand, almost 105,000 EV batteries, representing around 2.25 GWh of residual capacity, would be repurposed in 2030 alone, adding to the approx. 250,000 EV batteries that would have already entered second life applications before 2030.
Impact of EVs and storage in decarbonised electricity systems
Following widespread deployment, EV charging could represent an important load on the power system. The way in which vehicles are charged will determine whether EV charging represents a net cost or net
benefit to the power system. In this study, new research comprising whole power system analyses of four countries (FR, GB, ES, IT) demonstrated that unmanaged/passive charging would result in a significant additional cost to the power system, mainly network related investments due to the increase
in peak loads. In contrast, smart charging could provide a net benefit to the energy system, by reducing curtailment of variable renewable energy sources (VRES), reducing fossil fuel use in power plants, and avoiding investment in peaking plant.
A net benefit of smart charging (relative to passive) was consistent across countries, although the amount varied between €0.5-1.3Bn/annum (evaluated in 2040 – see chapter 3). The impact was greatest in countries where wind energy was significant; overnight smart charging improved
consumption of wind energy that would otherwise be curtailed. In future PV dominated energy systems, there was a very large requirement for flexibility technologies, like smart charging but also utility battery storage. The analysis found a synergistic relationship between smart charging, batteries and PV in particular: the daily patterns of PV output increase the utilisation of batteries and increase the level of their economic deployment. Modelling indicated that there will be some competition between flexibility
sources, however the 2040 capacities were many times larger than current levels of battery deployment.
There is a synergistic relationship between battery deployment and VRES: increased storage deployment supports greater levels of VRES by reducing curtailment, in turn the increased variability of power generation supports the high cycling that batteries need to be economic. Vehicle to Grid – where
EVs discharge back to the power system at critical times – may represent an extremely large store of electricity of national importance. Utilising V2G can be cost effective if barriers related to customer behaviour and battery degradation are overcome.
Battery second life
Whilst (non-Li-Ion) battery recycling is a well-established industry already, battery repurposing is still an emerging sector, with a handful of small-scale European players, and under limited regulatory control. For example, in 2030, out the 125,000 EVs scrapped, 105,000 battery packs would be considered for second life applications, the equivalent of 2.25 GWh. As the sector is expanding in line with the growth in the EV uptake, the increase in the volumes of used batteries and price reductions in terms of logistics and tepurposing techniques will make second life batteries cost-competitive with new batteries. The advantages of second life batteries are not limited to using a readily available cheaper technology – which would have otherwise been recycled – and avoiding the resources and emissions associated with manufacturing new batteries. The material benefits to the
end-user are tangible – a 42% price reduction compared to new batteries. Battery repurposing will also bring additional benefits for the players involved. Car OEMs would be able to save an average of $67/battery unit repurposed instead of recycling them. The industry and supply-chain created around repurposing will generate additional jobs and revenues (~$79m in 2030 for the 93,000 EV viable battery packs)
Second life batteries will also boost storage and renewables deployment: the expected lower costs of 2nd life modules and cells (compared to new) will boost the levels of deployed storage capacities on energy networks beyond the level achievable with new grid batteries. In turn, this will
boost VRES deployment, displace more fossil fuels and peaking plant, reduce energy cost to consumers and reduce CO2 emissions.