PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC) has outlined a plan for Australia to benefit from the expected surge in demand for batteries, which is expected to grow at least nine or ten-fold over the next decade, to be worth an estimated $133-billion to $151-billion by 2030.
The International Energy Agency forecasts a 40-fold increase in battery investment, eclipsing the opportunity for solar, wind and hydrogen with batteries expected to capture 70% of all renewable energy investment in a net-zero world.
In its 'Towards 2030 – Australia’s Battery Powered Future' report, which was submitted to the federal government, FBICRC put forth a number of measures, including the development of a national battery strategy, an industry attraction fund with a specific focus on batteries and a bi-coastal Australian Battery Institute.
A range of mechanisms that support domestic and international consumption are also proposed, which may include practical measures such as rebates, fiscal support and concessions.
The battery industry currently adds A$1.3-billion value and 6 000 jobs to Australia’s economy, and the country has a 50% market share in critical ores and growing domestic demand for energy storage products. Most of Australia trade is with China, which controls 90% of the world market in battery chemicals, pre-cursors and cell manufacturing.
The report noted that Australia’s critical minerals endowment, emerging materials and manufacturing capabilities, global strategic partnerships and reputation as a low-risk investment destination make it uniquely positioned to play a leading role in the global battery technology revolution.
However, it warned that time is running out for Australia to compete in the parts of the value chain that hold most of the value-creation and macro-economic opportunity. Beyond minerals extraction, Australia could feasibly manufacture the chemicals, advanced materials, cells and modules for integration into global value chains
FBICRC CEO Shannon O’Rourke said that to build a successful domestic battery industry will require both courage and ambition at a national level.
“Batteries and battery minerals are becoming increasingly critical to the global goal of achieving net zero. Australia is blessed with an abundance of raw materials, finite resources of strategic global importance, that we should be leveraging to our national advantage.
“Through ambitious actions, investment and attraction strategies we can add value to our raw minerals, offer our trading partners a secure supply, meet domestic demand at a competitive cost and secure the jobs of the future all within our shores,” said O’Rourke.
“Put simply, Australia has a choice. We can continue our traditional focus on the mining and export of raw battery materials and accept the lost opportunity of value-add for Australia.
Alternatively, we can shift our mindset, invest with purpose and adopt courageous and visionary policy settings. These measures have the potential to unlock a significant economic prize of A$7.4-billion annually and more than 34 000 jobs by 2030,” said O'Rourke.