New Regulations to Boost Investments into Battery Recycling in the EU - Global Trade Magazine
  August 29th, 2021 | Written by

New Regulations to Boost Investments into Battery Recycling in the EU

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  • In value terms, Germany ($7.5B) constitutes the largest market for imported electric accumulators in the EU.
  • The sector for lithium is one the fastest growing areas and is forecast to expand by 30% annually.
  • In Europe, over 1.9 million tonnes of waste batteries are generated annually.

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘EU – Electric Accumulators – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The battery market in the EU is expanding on the heels of growth in the electric vehicle and renewable energy industries. In July 2021, the EU instituted new regulations that force battery producers to diminish greenhouse gas emissions throughout all stages of the product lifecycle. Increases in mandatory levels of recovered batteries and the share of recycled materials used in new ones will lead to a critical need for additional recycling capabilities and could drive an investment boom in the market.

Key Trends and Insights

The Global Battery Alliance projects that by 2030 worldwide demand for batteries will increase 14 fold due to the widespread implementation of electric transport methods and deployment in electricity grids. The EU may account for 17% of global demand. In 2030 demand for lithium batteries is forecast to surpass the current amount by a factor of 18, cobalt by 5 and in 2050 by a factor of 60 and 15 respectively.

In July 2021, the EU implemented new regulations to ensure safe use, recycling and disposal of batteries. These regulations could lead to serious changes in the accumulator market. From July 1, 2024, producers selling batteries in the European market will have to provide declarations indicating the carbon footprint created throughout production. Then from July 1, 2027, they must comply with maximum lifecycle carbon footprint thresholds for their products. This will push expenses for producers up as they implement technologies to reduce greenhouse gases. To help companies stay competitive, the new regulations outline developing a plan where governments are obligated to purchase products manufactured with green technologies.

In Europe, over 1.9 million tonnes of waste batteries are generated annually. The current level of recycled materials in the EU is significantly low: only 12% of aluminium, 22% of cobalt, 8% of manganese, and 16% of nickel used within the EU is recycled. Currently, almost no lithium is recovered in the EU because it is deemed to not be cost-effective.

In accordance with the new regulations, targets are set for recovering metals from waste batteries at 90% for cobalt, copper, lead, and nickel, and 35% for lithium by the end of 2025. By 2030 the recovery level should reach 95% for cobalt, copper, lead and nickel, and 70% for lithium. This will require a significant increase in capacity to recycle batteries and thus provide new opportunities for investors. The sector for lithium is one the fastest growing areas and is forecast to expand by 30% annually, experiencing the highest level of demand for recycling capacity.

Electric Accumulator Imports in the EU

In 2020, approx. 1.2B units of electric accumulators were imported in the EU; with a decrease of -8.1% against the previous year’s figure. In value terms, accumulator imports soared to $23.1B (IndexBox estimates) in 2020.

Germany represented the largest importing country with an import of about 386M units, which finished at 33% of total imports. It was distantly followed by Poland (199M units), Hungary (168M units), the Netherlands (96M units), France (65M units) and the Czech Republic (58M units), together achieving a 49% share of total imports. Italy (37M units) followed a long way behind the leaders.

In value terms, Germany ($7.5B) constitutes the largest market for imported electric accumulators in the EU, comprising 32% of total imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by France ($2.4B), with a 11% share of total imports. It was followed by the Netherlands, with a 6.8% share.

In 2020, the average annual rate of growth in terms of value in Germany totaled +48.6%. The remaining importing countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: France (+1.6% per year) and the Netherlands (+3.4% per year).

The accumulator import price in the EU stood at $20 per unit in 2020, growing by 43% against the previous year. In 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by the Czech Republic, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

European Imports of Primary Cells and Primary Batteries

Germany represented the major importing country with an import of around 3.1B units, which amounted to 33% of total imports. It was distantly followed by Poland (1,470M units), Belgium (743M units), Romania (624M units), France (605M units), the Netherlands (495M units), Italy (474M units) and Spain (452M units), together constituting a 52% share of total imports.

In value terms, Germany ($534M) constitutes the largest market for imported primary cells and primary batteries in the European Union, comprising 23% of total imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by France ($238M), with a 10% share of total imports. It was followed by Poland, with a 10% share.

In Germany, the value of battery imports declined by an average annual rate of -2.3% in 2020. The remaining importing countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: France (+10.3% per year) and Poland (+22.0% per year).

Source: IndexBox Platform