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Battery alarm despite Tesla: EU bank and consultants warn of Chinese battery dominance

State-of-the-art batteries will form the core of Europe’s ecological transformation, the European Investment Bank (EIB), launched by the EU, writes in a current assessment. For the raw materials consulting company Benchmark Minerals, batteries are no less than the “industrial infrastructure of the 21st century”. And although Tesla is leading electric cars and has had and is expected to have significant activity in batteries, consultants like Bank agree that China is way ahead of the West in this area.

West with batteries behind emerging market

Europe and the United States are lagging behind in terms of basic future technology in a country that is still considered an emerging market in the MSCI stock market index, for example. The EIB says that it is doing its utmost to enable Europe to catch up. But at least the current comparison is bleak: In the EU there is currently a battery production capacity of 49 gigawatt hours per year, compared to 447 gigawatt hours in China; in the USA, too, the value is no higher than in Europe, despite the Gigafactory from Tesla and Panasonic with 35 gigawatt hours recently.

And although the EIB says it wants to provide one billion euros as much money for European battery projects in 2020 as in the past ten years combined, the gap is likely to widen for the time being. At least in the past twelve months, the USA has fallen further, Benchmark Minerals writes in a current technical article. A year ago, 70 large battery factories worldwide were planned or in operation, 46 of them in China and 5 in the USA. Now there are 136, and while the number in China has more than doubled to 101, it only increased to 8 in the United States.

For the time being, Tesla is also banking on China

In China, new Gigafactorys were built mathematically every week, in the United States only every four months, according to the consulting company. In Europe, things went a little faster – an Gigafactory was created here on average every two months, which also means only six more in the course of a year. The USA (and with it Europe) should build up a new heavy industry practically from scratch, writes Benchmark. This challenge required a response, the dimensions of which were comparable to the New Deal under Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. This could create millions of jobs and put the United States at the forefront of the ongoing “energy storage revolution”.

After all, the United States can hope for the innovations of Tesla boss Elon Musk, but it is open where they will be implemented first – in the long run, probably anyway, worldwide. For the time being, however, Tesla is expanding its cooperation with CATL from China. Only this week, a new Model 3 from the Gigafactory in Shanghai with cheaper LFP cells from CATL was approved, and according to reports, the partnership will result in further new batteries.

CATL from China also strong in Europe

According to reports, CATL alone wants to increase its capacity at home by more than 100 gigawatt hours within two to three years. In addition, there are 14 gigawatt hours of capacity per year in a plant that CATL is building in Thuringia and plans to start operating in 2022. In its current report, the EIB mentions battery factory projects with a volume of 51 gigawatt hours across Europe.

A possible cell production by Tesla in the German Gigafactory should not yet be included. Specifically, the industrial continent EU is currently planning less than half as much new capacity for the infrastructure of the upcoming lithium-ion economy as the alleged emerging country China – and a company from there accounts for more than 25 percent of the European expansion plans.

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