In a joint declaration, Germany and France have agreed on a strategic approach for the future of battery cell production in Europe. The two governments will already begin collaborating with the EU Commission on the undertaking in the coming months.
The joint declaration is rich in general statements and expressions of will. Both nations see that “Battery technology is a key and will be indispensable across several important areas of industrial value creation.”
Interested consortia may submit their projects for classification as an “Important Project of Common European Interest” (IPCEI) would enable them to benefit from state aid through European Commission regulations. Potential consortia are therefore invited to submit detailed investment plans so that the Commission can grant recognition as an IPCEI project in the first half of 2019.
The governments’ choice of industrial consortia will be “including automobile manufacturers” for the targeted support in the production of battery cells. Neither government is looking exclusively at German and/or French companies as they intend to consider players from other EU member states.
Both governments see their task as being one of creating the right framework conditions and providing start-up aid for a limited period of time. They make it clear that they see the onus of the task of developing and establishing competitive industrial battery cell production fall under the responsibility of private enterprise.
In Germany, there has been a lot of talk about the government’s intention to pledge one billion euros to kick start battery cell production in Germany by 2022. The French government has been similarly vocal about its willingness to provide “substantial financial support” for battery cell projects in France, although a concrete amount has not been named.
In Germany, there have long been various rumours of promising industrial players with hitherto few results. In October just passed there was talk about a consortium involving Varta Microbattery and Ford. Apparently, the German government’s Coal Commission was told that the Federal Minister for Economy, Peter Altmaier, had promised the energy group RWE “a lot of money for a battery cell factory”, if RWE in return, withdrew from lignite mining faster than planned. In 2019 it will become clear whether European companies are sufficiently tantalised by the French and German governments’ declaration.