Elkem CEO in meeting with EU Commission Vice President

by David Fleschen

On Monday, 27 June, Elkem CEO Helge Aasen participated in a roundtable discussion with EU Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič and Norwegian Minister of Trade & Industry Jan Christian Vestre on current and future challenges and opportunities in Europe’s green transition.

The meeting was organised by The Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises and The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions. Maroš Šefčovič is the Vice President at the European Commission and also coordinator of the Commission’s work on the European Battery Alliance (EBA).

Together with other high-level representatives from the Norwegian business community, Helge Aasen represented Elkem and its subsidiary Vianode in the conversation with Šefčovič and Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, Jan Christian Vestre. The main topic for the meeting was raw materials and batteries, as essential components in the green transition.

“We in Elkem are proud to be key suppliers to Europe for many advanced materials which are critical for the green transition, and we appreciate the ambitions announced at today’s meeting about enhanced political and industrial cooperation on the strategic value chains of batteries and raw materials. Elkem also aims to build a leading producer of sustainable battery materials through Vianode, which represents an attractive growth opportunity. The market for battery materials is growing at an exponential rate and developing sustainable value chains is critical for the green transformation. To make this happen in Europe and in Norway, we need competitive framework conditions”, says Helge Aasen, CEO of Elkem.

Founded by Elkem in 2021, Vianode currently has around 60 employees. The company builds on Elkem’s experience in advanced material solutions as well as its in-house research and development resources. Vianode recently announced a transaction where Hydro and Altor each plan to acquire 30% ownership in Vianode, while Elkem will retain the remaining 40% ownership. Hydro and Altor both add significant experience and expertise in developing large-scale industrial projects in the battery value chain. The transaction is subject to formal approval by all parties and regulatory approvals, including competition authorities.

The EU Green Deal identifies batteries as a key ‘breakthrough technology’ in the green transition. Sustainably produced batteries will be key to decarbonise the transport and energy sectors, reduce CO2 emissions and create good-quality jobs. Global demand for batteries is predicted to grow tenfold in the coming decade due to higher EV penetration, stationary energy storage and industrial – and maritime applications. The predicted high volumes call for a massive mobilisation of all battery stakeholders.

Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, Maroš Šefčovič, and Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre, have released the following joint statement on enhanced political and industrial cooperation on the strategic value chains of batteries and raw materials:

“The European Union and Norway enjoy a deep and long-standing relationship as neighbours and partners, sharing common political objectives and fundamental values, while being part of the Single Market through the European Economic Area (EEA)”

“Given the urgent need to tackle climate change, and secure supplies of sustainable energy, materials and technologies instrumental to decarbonisation and the competitiveness of their economies, while increasing resilience of strategic ecosystems, the EU and Norway share the ambition to strengthen and expand their cooperation in the area of the raw materials and battery value chains”

The Parties agreed on the following initial areas of action:

  • Norway will participate in the ministerial meetings of the European Battery Alliance.
  • Norway intends to participate in and contribute to the European Battery Academy.
  • The two Parties will discuss the application of the rules of origin laid down in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement for battery packs and battery cells of Norwegian origin installed in electric vehicles produced in and traded between the EU and the UK.
  • Industrial actors, with the support of the European Alliances and Norwegian Associations, will explore business opportunities in view of developing battery and raw materials projects in Norway and the EU, including at a jointly organised business networking event.
  • The two Parties will work towards advancing best practices for resource classification and mapping, including mapping mineral potential from waste sources.
  • The two Parties will organise a joint Tracing Net-Zero Battery Minerals event to support research and innovation.

The European Commission Vice-President, Maroš Šefčovič fostered the creation of the European Battery Alliance (EBA) in 2017 to create in the EU, a sustainable, innovative, and vertically integrated battery value chain. With some 111 industrial projects in development and a total level of investment reaching some EUR 127 billion (by the end of 2021) the EU has built a strong foundation for a resilient and globally competitive value chain, which will be producing enough batteries to almost fully meet the needs of its industry.

In the Green Industrial Initiative (“Grønt Industriløft”), presented by the Norwegian Government on 23 June 2022, batteries make up one of seven pillars. Moreover, Norway will shortly present a national battery strategy, prepared in close cooperation with the EBA. The strategy aims, among other objectives, to develop a competitive Norwegian battery industry that would contribute to the European ecosystem along an entire value chain. The strategy includes an action plan to attract and mobilise private capital to invest in the battery value chain in Norway, in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Taking a leading position in technological development in the battery value chain is also a key element in the strategy.

Source and Photo: Elkem

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