Author: Léon Ferrari, Phd student, VUB & JRC

As Europe enters in transition from fossil fuels to the mineral-fuelled energy system, we foresee TWh of battery storage in Europe. As a reminder, an enormous increase in energy storage will be necessary, mainly for electro-mobility, but also stationary storage. For example, when thinking about passenger mobility, we think about xEV; if each EU-27 citizen replaces their personal car with a 75kWh BEV (0.567 passenger car per capita in EU, ACEA), then we would need a total  18 861 GWh  of battery capacity. To this, an additional 200-600 GW with a 1-6h capacity for stationary storage is to be expected, according to grey literature. If we had to build this storage capacity in a year, ~20 TWh, we would need about 8-10 times the current world Gigafactory capacity.

Fig.1 Battery production capacity (Transport & Environment, Alina Racu, and Julia Poliscanova. 2023. ‘T&E Battery Risk Report : How Not to Lose It All’. Transport & environment)

This gigantic increase in storage capacity shall follow an increased battery manufacturer capacity. However, assessing cost, environmental and social impacts can be difficult; the continuous increase, evolution and emergency of new storage technology can hinder the analysis of the different impacts. From the huge cost decrease due to increased manufacturing efficiency to chemistry escaping the lithium cage (Na-ion), future is plural.

Progress in battery manufacturing

In the last decade, most of the improvements in cost and energy are on the manufacturing side for LIB (Lithium-Ion Battery) production one threshold is still in the raw material supply cost. Due to the complex supply chains, and the international competition and the potential lack of exploitable resources in the EU, it is harder to influence the raw material supply chain.

Nonetheless, there is still space for better, and the EU has in its hand one major levers, battery manufacturing, for improving environmental life cycle impacts of batteries. Within BATMACHINE, the aim will be to further increase the energy efficiency of manufacturing by developing new machinery, while aiming at following the best ecological standards. By focusing on 4 steps which consume more than 60% of the machinery energy we plan to reduce energy consumption.

Fig.2 Energy consumption for the manufacturing of cell (Jinasena, Asanthi, Odne Stokke Burheim, and Anders Hammer Strømman. 2021. ‘A Flexible Model for Benchmarking the Energy Usage of Automotive Lithium-Ion Battery Cell Manufacturing’. Batteries 7 (1): 14.

BATMACHINE’s Energy, Cost and Sustainability Assessment will first focus on creating a benchmark and collecting data from both literature and the current manufacturing lines of BATMACHINE partners (Leclanché GMBH and Pomega). Using the latest life cycle assessment data and methodologies, VUB will identify environmental hot spots and quantify improvements within the manufacturing process. In fact, the new slurry mixing and calendaring techniques developed within the project will be crucial to bring such improvements.

Contemporaneously, BATMACHINE will conduct a social assessment using the Social Hotspot database, so to identify trade-off between environmental and social impacts. Moreover, a model representing the different manufacturing lines will be crucial to identify cost by manufacturing steps with a focus on machinery, energy consumption, and specific ambient needs for the process. Such a fine model will allow to identify potential bottlenecks or synergies with environmental and social assessments.

BATMACHINE contribution to future battery manufacturing

Later on, based on the real hourly consumption profile, location, and seasonality of a manufacturing plant, VUB will design a low-emission energy mix to sustain the production of the manufacturing plant. Moreover, by following the latest European assessment standard (PEF; JRC), BATMACHINE will pave the way for the European Battery Passport. With the initial aim of reducing the individual energy consumption by 20%, and their productivity by 10%, this will improve the competitiveness of partners, and machine manufacturers and create a new space for collaboration.