The Battery Revolution is the moment for Finland

A recent report by the IPCC suggests that climate change is accelerating. Reducing traffic emissions, which are responsible for over 20% of global CO2 emissions, would be one of the most important means to reach the goals for sustainable development. There is no doubt that the age of the internal combustion engine is drawing to a close. Car manufacturers are investing huge sums to develop electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing. Batteries are becoming more effective and much cheaper. It is expected that within the next 5 to 10 years, an EV will be less expensive than a normal car meeting the strict emission limits. In addition to EVs and consumer electronics, batteries will be needed, for instance, in heavy transport, machinery and bicycles. Smart grids will also need batteries for energy storage and balancing peak consumption.

Recent forecasts indicate that the demand for batteries will grow exponentially. Within the next 15 years, the global market would need something like one hundred new battery gigafactories to make the Battery Revolution possible. China has taken the lead in battery manufacturing, followed by other Far East countries and the USA.

Huge quantities of raw materials are needed to produce batteries. As a direct consequence, a boom in battery mineral mining is projected to occur. The metal markets for copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt and graphite are predicted to benefit the most. A global race for the market share of raw materials supply is now already underway. Cobalt is particularly critical, because its production is largely concentrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo and most cobalt refining takes place in China.

An ambitious objective is to make Europe a global leader in sustainable battery production. A great deal of effort and organization has already taken place to develop this plan. Such a large increase in battery manufacturing will require a much larger extraction, processing and refining capacity to supply at least a reasonable part of the future raw materials demand from Europe.

This is an important moment for Finland to become one of the key battery industry players in Europe. A multi-billion euro business based on the battery industry, covering the whole value chain from mining, processing, chemicals production and manufacturing to recycling can be established and further developed. This development will be supported by existing knowhow and technological expertise.

Raw materials provide a firm foundation for the development. Finland is the only European country where significant resources of all the key battery minerals exist, and most of them are already produced. Furthermore, Finland has existing capability for processing and refining.

GTK has set a strategic goal to build a much better
understanding of the national potential for battery minerals. In particular, cobalt mineral systems and their best exploration and effective processing techniques will form a special focus in the next few years. GTK also welcomes partnerships and projects across the whole battery ecosystem to speed up innovations and business development.

  

Pekka Nurmi

Director,
Science and Innovations

pekka.nurmi@gtk.fi