The world is moving rapidly towards electrification and the demand for batteries is growing exponentially. Battery resources are limited and they must be extracted, refined, used, and recycled efficiently. The still-developing battery industry poses a business opportunity for creating new circular solutions: new technologies and business models must be developed to ensure a close loop for resources in the battery value chain.
So, how do we create a sustainable battery economy from a resource use perspective? And could we recognize mutual business opportunities for creating a circular economy of batteries in the Combient network? By gathering the leading battery industry players within the Combient network we are able to accelerate the collaboration and co-creation of new tangible business solutions around the battery value chain.
“Looking at the Combient network, at least two-thirds of the 32 companies are involved in the battery value chain in one way or the other. Stora Enso is the only raw material producer in the network, whereas Fortum is the only one with a recycling process for batteries. Most companies are utilizing batteries in their operations or as part of their products, working to build circular business models,” Marika Määttä, Head of Combient Pure said in her introduction.
In June 2021 a number of the Combient network companies gathered together to discuss the mutual interest areas in the battery value chain.
Three companies from the network shared case examples from within their respective industry. Stephan Walter, Director, Emerging Business, Bio-based Carbons at Stora Enso shared a case on What a tree can do: lignin-based materials for lithium-ion batteries. “In my personal view, we are at the brink of another industrial revolution, switching from petrol to electric,” Stephan said. “But we currently see only a few initiatives in the Nordics, and this is a gap where Europe will depend on international supply, mainly from the East Asian market. This is where Stora Enso comes into the value chain. We offer materials based on trees with a superior sustainability profile, made in the Nordics.”
Jonas Willaredt, Head of Environment & Sustainability at Husqvarna Division spoke about Batteries in a circular economy. “Like many other companies, we are on a journey towards electrification. Practically all our products can be electrified over time. Our life cycle assessments verify that most battery-driven products have significantly lower carbon emissions compared to petrol-driven products. The production and recycling aspects of batteries are of great importance for our customers and we need to develop new battery technologies from a holistic point of view. We are only in the beginning, and at Husqvarna, we see many opportunities by providing more low-carbon products and new business models for circularity going forward,” Jonas said.
Finally, Erik Svedlund, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Epiroc Electrification highlighted a case on Battery as a Service. “At Epiroc, we see zero emissions as the only way forward, including zero diesel, zero toxic gases, as well as reduced heat and noise. We have a unique business case in underground mining looking at energy savings related to ventilation. Ventilation is normally the biggest energy cost for the mine,” Erik explained. “However, batteries are expensive, and our customer does not buy equipment but production capacity, and they have a set budget for it. If the machine costs twice as much, this will become a challenge. To solve this, we have introduced a new business model for batteries to be circular, or Batteries as a Service if you will, making the machines less expensive to buy.” Erik said.
The meeting ended with a workshop to recognize mutual interest areas for business development among and between the participating companies. The workshop was divided into three main topics - Raw material extraction and battery manufacturing, Battery applications, and Battery recycling. The small groups discussed the bottlenecks in each of these lifecycle stages for creating a circular economy of batteries and recognized possible solutions to these bottlenecks.
The Combient Pure team will develop the ideas brought up in the workshop further and reach out to interested participants going forward. Stay tuned!