Europe's homegrown battery cells could end its reliance on China by 2027

Analysis by Transport & Environment forecasts that Europe will dramatically increase domestic production of battery cells and materials.

Europe's homegrown battery cells could end its reliance on China by 2027

By 2027, Europe has the potential to fully rely on domestic production of battery cells, meeting its EV and energy storage demands without any Chinese imports. That's according to the latest forecast by Transport & Environment (T&E), a campaign group, which analyzed a range of manufacturer reports and press releases.

The European NGO further estimates that, in 2030, the companies with the largest battery cell production in the continent will be CATL, Northvolt, ACC, Freyr, and the Volkswagen Group.

About two-thirds of Europe's needs for cathodes — an integral battery part — could also be produced in-house, the report finds. So far, 12 companies plan to become active in this part of the battery supply chain, with 17 plants announced in the region. Existing and scheduled projects include Umicore in Poland, Northvolt in Sweden, and BASF in Germany.

Northvolt's first battery cell produced at the company's Ett gigafactory in Sweden. Credit: Northvolt

Projections about the refining and processing of lithium are optimistic as well. While 100% of the refined lithium required for European batteries is imported from China and other countries, the bloc is expected to meet 50% of its demand by 2030. T&E has identified 24 projects so far, including Vulcan Energy Resources in Germany and Eramet in France.

The NGO warns, however, that these scenarios will not be realized unless backed by sufficient and timely funding, highlighting that the US' Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) could attract European talent and factories to America.

'Europe needs the financial firepower to support its green industries in the global race with America and China,' Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and e-mobility at T&E, said. 'A European Sovereignty Fund would support a truly European industrial strategy and not just countries with deep pockets. But spending rules need to be streamlined so that building a battery plant does not take the same amount of time as a coal plant.'