With power and heating costs spiking, it's understandable (if a little unfair- it's gas that's expensive) that people are asking whether sustainability is working for us.
Wouldn't it be better to deregulate and keep on polluting until someone else has solved / paid for energy transition? After all, it won't be THAT long until we have nuclear fusion and can let the deuterium-tritium plasma do the heavy lifting for us. We'll have the shiniest tokamak reactors around in the 2070s, if we can just shield our taxpayers from paying for all this sustainable infrastructure in the tough times of the 2020s...
But that's not how the European battery industry sees it. They see a EUR250 billion+ market by 2025, and highly-skilled and well-capitalised Asian battery behemoths with the incumbency, ambition and scale to take a huge bite out of it. They want to be part of improving our air quality and environment, and they see a crucial competitive advantage that will allow them to do just that: ESG.
Look at Northvolt:
"We want to speed up rules that will regulate the industry, and at minimum we’re calling for
- carbon footprint declaration requirements from 1 July 2024
- supply chain due diligence obligations in place one year after the regulation enters into force (and for that to be as soon as possible)".
Fantastic! But this is an industrial corporation asking for more regulation?
The win-win is that not only will that enhance our environment, it will also deliver vast economic benefit to an entire value chain in Europe- and the battery companies know that there's no time like the present:
“With speed the critical element in this fast growing industry, any further delays in implementing the regulation will be too late to give European newcomers a head start over larger incumbent players in the race to dominate this key strategic technology.”
As a disruptive environmental technology in a high-value industry, the EV battery industry might seem an obvious poster-child for sustainability. But what is the mining industry if not an integral part of that value chain, for copper, nickel, cobalt, graphite, aluminium and steel (as well as rare earths for the permanent magnets in EV drive trains)? We don't know yet which technologies will win out in the battery arms race- though like Mark Twain, reports of cobalt's demise seem greatly exaggerated- but we do know that the materials will have to be mined.
And we know that the mining companies who can embrace sustainability and regulatory compliance as their super-power now will be the ones seizing the market-share in the premium-priced OEM supply chain.
Time to put a new battery in that ESG strategy...
(Photo credit: Northvolt)