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Home Breaking News How can Romania get on the map of the electric car

How can Romania get on the map of the electric car


Large groups in the automotive industry are announcing gigantic projects for the development of battery manufacturing. The “heart” of the electric car is about 40 percent of the cost of the car. Therefore, the battle to conquer the car market in the most dynamic segment will take place in the field of high-power rechargeable batteries. Investment in Europe in this area is estimated at around € 70 billion. Romania risks not entering the map of battery manufacturing, although it has strong car mounting capabilities and “stands” on the strategic minerals in the batteries.

The Volkswagen Group has announced a program to build six large battery plants to support the development of electric cars, which will become predominant in the production structure by 2030. At the “Power Day” event on March 15, 2021, held in Wolfsburg, the center Concerning the car, technical director Thomas Schmall presented the guidelines of investment projects aimed at a capacity of 240 GWh for the equipment of 3-4 million cars per year. The first plant is being built in Sweden, in partnership with Nortvolt, in which VW has a 20 percent stake. The Swedish business, developed by two Tesla researchers, announces the start of battery production in 2023. The plant will have a capacity of 40 GWh and already has a $ 14 billion order from VW. The second plant will be located in Germany, and the third, in all probability, will be equipped with Seat cars in Spain.

22 projects in Europe

Currently, 22 industrial and technological projects, of start-up type, for the development of battery production are identified in Europe. The technical idea is stabilized on the lithium-cadmium ion battery. There are big projects that are under the patronage of VW, Tesla (USA), ACC (France), CATL (China), Nortvolt (Sweden), to which are added those of the Koreans from LG and Samsung. To reduce costs, the new battery factories are located as close as possible to the machine mounting locations. An evaluation of projects in Europe shows a funding need of 70 billion euros. So far, only the Swedish factory, which has managed to “raise” 3 million euros, has a smooth financing. The European Union wants to take the new projects out of the global domination of Asians. As such, European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic has proposed an EU Alliance for Battery Insurance, with a € 6 billion grant program included in the new budget for 2021-2027. ACC thus has, according to the publication Les Echos, access to funds of 1.3 billion euros.

BATTERY MAP

Of the 22 projects identified in Europe for the manufacture of batteries, none are listed as locations in Romania. Tesla will set up its main factory in Berlin. One of the six VW factories would be in Eastern Europe, with talks with the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. Koreans choose Central Europe, where they also have car factories. Hungary has started the project with the South Koreans from SK Inovation, LG has developed a capacity in Wroclaw, Poland. InoBat announces the start of production in Slovakia in 2022.

RESTRICTIONS DUE TO STRATEGIC MATERIALS

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At European level, batteries totaling 460 GWh by 2025 and 730 GWh by 2030 should be secured. Restrictions to ensure this ambitious plan are not just about financing investment. Problems that need to be solved quickly are also related to the need for materials. A study shows that 10 kg of cobalt would be needed in the composition of a power battery. The largest cobalt deposits in the world are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with production controlled by a Chinese mining group. Nickel, another basic material in the manufacture of batteries, is increasingly in demand on the world market. Under these conditions, the geostrategic interests that need to be harmonized, through diplomacy and power games, in order to ensure the support of raw materials for the automotive industry, become sharper.

At the “Days of Power” were highlighted other issues on the list of priorities. A reduction in battery weight and, essentially, a reduction in recharging time. For electric cars now on the market, the power supply time is 4-5 hours, which is a big inconvenience. Solutions are underway to ensure a fast recharge, of about 12 minutes, as stated by the VW official. Also, the creation of a network of fast recharging stations, with increased power sources, is at the center of a program in which it participates with the German car group, strong energy companies – BP, ENEL, Iberdrola. In order to reduce dependence on strategic raw materials, waste battery recovery programs are foreshadowed as the main “mine” of resources for sensitive metals.

ROMANIA IS ON STRATEGIC MINERALS

How can Romania get on the map that is now shaping the car industry of the future? With two assembly plants, in Mioveni and Craiova, which are maintained in the viable programs of the Renault and Ford groups, Romania would meet the proximity requirement of battery manufacturing. With one condition – that electric models be manufactured in Romania. However, the Dacia electric model is now launched in China, and a Europeanization could be “drawn” by Renault in France. An asset, still theoretical, is the entry into the battery market, as a supplier of materials needed for manufacturing. As we showed in a previous article in the Journal – Monday, March 29, 2021 edition – geological research highlights lithium ores in Teregova, in the Southern Carpathians, in the Sebeș Mountains, in the Bihor Mountains and Craiului Forest. Perimeters with lithium and cadmium extraction potential are also located in the Bihor area. Battery manufacturing technologies are addressed in studies at the Research Institute for Non-Ferrous and Rare Metals in Bucharest. Recovery of non-ferrous materials is a dowry in the portfolio of several companies still operating in the country. An assessment of this potential, which should register Romania as a bidding country for the flow of electric car manufacturing, can be a priority topic for the Ministry of Economy.

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