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New European Battery Academy to boost skills for fast-growing battery ecosystem

EUROPEAN UNION, 2022
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic gives a press conference in Brussels, February 21, 2022.

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Despite the pandemic and significant supply disruptions, the European Union has continued to make headway in establishing an innovative, sustainable and globally competitive battery value chain, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, responsible for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said on February 23.

The Sixth High-Level Meeting of the European Battery Alliance took place in Brussels to discuss the progress in developing the battery value chain in Europe and to address the most pressing challenges on the way forward. The Commission also presented priority areas for the work of the European Battery Alliance in 2022.

The High-Level Meeting noted that 111 major battery projects are being developed across EU Member States, with the total level of investment along the entire value chain amounting to €127 billion, the Commission said.

The European Battery Academy was launched in the margins of the High-Level Meeting.

By signing a letter of intent between the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and EIT InnoEnergy, the Commission will support the Academy with a grant of €10 million under the REACT-EU. The Academy aims to effectively coordinate re-skilling and up-skilling efforts at European level and to provide for the immediate roll out of high-quality training across Member States. It is part of the EU’s Skills Agenda, the Pact for Skills and a tangible EU contribution towards meeting the demand of 800,000 workers that will need to be re-skilled or up-skilled in the battery industry by 2025.

“In 2017, the EU battery industry was hardly on the map. Today, Europe is a global battery hotspot, with 20 Gigafactories emerging across our Member States,” Sefcovic said. “By 2030, we should be manufacturing enough batteries each year to power some 11 million electric cars, moving full steam ahead towards strategic autonomy in this crucial sector. But maintaining this European battery success story depends on our ability to face the most pressing challenges – critical raw materials and skills – head on, with a more systematic approach needed. It is also high time to adopt a new regulatory framework, ensuring that only the greenest, best performing and safest batteries make it onto the EU market,” he added.

The Commission presented the priority areas for action in 2022, including swift agreement on and adoption of the Commission proposal for regulation on sustainable batteries, continued diversification of sources of battery raw materials through cooperation with trade partner countries rich in minerals, streamlining permitting procedures for battery raw material projects in Member States, in line with highest environmental standards, and improving and facilitating access to funding for projects in Europe, with the support of the European Investment Bank and European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, the Clean Technology Materials Task Force (involving the Commission, European Raw Materials Alliance and European Battery Alliance both under coordination by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology), and the Sustainability Battery Materials Fund of the European Battery Alliance.

Another priority area is the launch of national re-skilling and up-skilling programmes, taking advantage of the newly established EBA Academy, to prepare and rollout country-specific re-skilling and up-skilling programmes.

The High-Level Meeting, chaired by Sefcovic, was attended by Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, 15 EU Member States, Vice-Presidents of the European Investment Bank Thomas Ostros and Ambroise Fayolle, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development First Vice-President Jürgen Rigterink, MEP Hildegard Bentele, and EIT InnoEnergy CEO Diego Pavía.

EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, responsible for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, noted that transformative innovation must be met with skills and education for a new era. “The European Battery Alliance is implemented by the largest innovation ecosystem in Europe: the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. The EBA Academy will equip thousands of workers and learners with the skills needed by innovative companies and start-ups to grow and scaleup to become global tech champions. In addition it will also invest in the innovation ecosystem underpinning the European battery supply chain, with training platforms, centres, and curricula ready to meet the demands for a more competitive Europe,” Gabriel said.

Schmit called for equipping workers with new and additional skills to support growth and sustainability in the battery industry. “Supported through funding from REACT-EU, the European Battery Academy is crucial to accelerate the success story of the European Battery Alliance and is a concrete deliverable of the Pact for Skills. It will help Europe meet the demand of 800,000 workers that will need to be re-skilled or up-skilled in the battery industry by 2025,” Schmit said.

Breton reminded that five years ago Europe was at risk to fall irreversibly behind its competitors in the global batteries market. “Today, it is on its way to respond up to 90% of its needs by 2030. It is a remarkable U-turn and an example of what the EU can achieve thanks to a strong political commitment and common efforts. However, important progress remains to be accomplished in the area of sustainably and responsibly produced and sourced battery raw materials and equipping European workforce with the right skills. Our next challenge is to ensure that in these areas, we catch up with the considerable progress made on battery cells,” Breton said, adding, a key milestone will be the adoption of the new regulation on batteries. He called on the Member States and the European Parliament to find an agreement with no further delay.

 

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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