The London Metal Exchange (LME) made history on March 8, when the price of nickel doubled in an instant to more than $ 100,000 a tonne. Trading was suspended and trades were canceled.
The price of lithium, the second battery metal, has more than doubled since the end of last year, and the shortage of microcircuits does not seem to ease.
There are plenty of challenges in the electric car market, but the growth prospects for the battery industry are still staggering. In addition, the growing demand for energy storage is improving the outlook, especially in Europe.
The EU Commission forecasts that the European battery market will grow to € 250 billion over the next decade. Finland wants its share of growth, and much has already been done.
It is particularly interesting to follow the debate on energy self-sufficiency sparked by the war in Ukraine and how it reflects, among other things, the European energy revolution.
The direction is being sought and reacted to both at the EU level, but also at the country level, our own policies and plans are being created, for example, to ensure the supply of gas.
However, the direction in the energy revolution would seem to be forward, ie the situation will catalyze the trend towards increasing clean energy production rather than going backwards, for example by increasing the use of fossil fuels. This further reinforces the ongoing market breakdown and increases the need for batteries.
Business Finland has played a key role in creating a new industrial sector and acquiring investments in Finland.
The goal is to build the entire production value chain, develop recycling technologies and increase research inputs throughout the value chain.
Various projects in the battery sector have been launched for almost two billion euros, for example in Salo, Kotka, Vaasa, Ikaalinen, Kokkola, Sotkamo, Hamina and Kaustinen.
Recycling as a priority in the battery industry
Valmet Automotive The battery plants in Salo and Uusikaupunki currently employ more than a thousand people and are growing rapidly.
The Keliber lithium chemical plant will be built in the Kokkola large-scale industrial area, where the goal is to start construction in the summer of 2022 and production in 2024.
Sustainable development is an important competitive factor for Finland and must be carefully considered in all projects, and against this background, material recycling technology is one of Finland’s important priorities.
Competition for foreign investment is fierce. In Sweden Northvoltin billion-dollar investments are underway at battery factories.
Belgian material and recycling giant Umicore has developed a new generation recycling process for lithium recovery to be introduced in France.
Similarly, a mining giant Glencore is planning a lithium-ion battery recycling plant in the UK. News about investments comes almost daily.
There are pioneering companies in battery recycling in Finland Fortum. At the other end of the chain is the battery startup Accuratewhich makes software to optimize battery recycling.
Business Finland has funded about 200 research and development projects related to the battery and electrification sector of individual companies over a five-year period and a large number of group projects. Almost EUR 100 million in funding has been granted annually.
There can be no success without investment
A prerequisite for success is that our operating environment is predictable, that a skilled workforce is available and that cooperation between companies is smooth.
Under the leadership of Aalto University, four universities, two research institutes and 22 companies have been brought together into the BATCircle consortium, where the cooperation is close and diverse.
Finland has developed into a leading European country in the battery recycling sector, both in research and commercially, and the outlook for export potential is very positive. The aim is to reduce Europe’s dependence on imports of raw materials and finished batteries.
In order for Finland to become a real pioneer in the long term, investments in the battery industry in terms of resources, know-how and predictability must be increased. Good examples can be found very close by, such as Norway and Sweden.
In a rapidly evolving business environment, speed and extensive research and development can ensure sufficient competitiveness.
In addition, cooperation between companies is needed to accelerate internationalization. Co-operation between the Nordic countries and a strong link to European development play a significant role in success.
Despite the geopolitical problems, the future of the battery industry looks bright for Finland, and Finland is a very active player throughout Europe.