The European Commission has now approved funding totalling 3.2 billion euros for pan-European research and innovation projects by seven Member States in all segments of the battery value chain. Among others, Opel and BMW will benefit from the funds.
It is an important project of common European interest (“IPCEI”) notified jointly by Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Poland and Sweden to promote research and innovation in the field of batteries. It promotes the development of innovative and sustainable technologies for more durable lithium-ion batteries (with liquid or solid electrolyte). With the green light from Brussels, these countries can now subsidise research projects. Germany has an upper funding limit of 1.25 billion euros, which can be contributed as permitted state aid.
Research and development activities should enable innovations that go beyond the state of the art along the entire battery value chain – from the extraction and processing of raw materials, the production of modern chemical materials, the design of battery cells and modules and their integration into intelligent systems to the recycling and conversion of old batteries.
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In Germany, BMW, BASF, Opel, Umicore and Varta are to receive funding to develop innovative battery modules, for example, which can be used not only in the automotive sector but also in power tools. The exact projects are listed in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology’s information site, a link can be found at the end of this article. In the case of Opel, for example, battery cell production is the subject of a joint venture with the parent company PSA and the French battery manufacturer Saft – the first consortium to apply for the so-called “Altmaier billion“. In the German government press release, the BMWI writes that this is supposed to be the Opel component plant in Kaiserslautern, which until now, only existed as a rumour. The second group of companies submitted their application for pre-notification at the end of November.
German Federal Minister for the Economy Minister Peter Altmaier was pleased. “We want to build the most innovative and sustainable batteries in Germany and Europe and thus secure added value and jobs in Europe,” the minister said in a statement. “The task now is to get the concrete projects up and running quickly.”
This is by no means a sign that the companies involved can rest on their laurels. Should the technologies developed within the framework of the project yield higher returns than expected, the companies should repay part of the tax money received to the state concerned. This regulation is to be monitored by a supervisory body consisting of representatives of the seven states and the EU Commission.
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