EU’s Potential Dependence on China for Batteries

Following the decision to cease the use of Russian energy, the European Union faces the risk of becoming reliant on China for its battery supply. This shift towards battery technology is an attempt to combat the climate crisis and adhere to greener solutions. However, this move comes with its own set of challenges.

Breaking Ties with Russian Energy

The EU’s resolve to cease using Russian-sourced fossil fuels comes at a time of ongoing international tensions. The decision aligns with the general trend, as many countries globally continue to seek ways of reducing their carbon footprints. The push for the use of renewable sources, such as wind, solar, and battery technology, is at the forefront of these efforts. However, the transition from fossil fuels to renewables is likely to be fraught with complications, thereby raising a concern: will the EU end up swapping one dependence for another?

A Shift Towards Battery Technology

In seeking alternative power sources, battery technology has become more prominent than ever. With the growing popularity of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and the increasing need for off-grid energy storage solutions, the demand for batteries, particularly lithium-ion batteries, has skyrocketed. China, being the world leader in battery manufacturing, is thus well-positioned to meet this surge in demand. This reliance on China can ironically reestablish the energy dependence the EU seeks to break free of.

China’s Dominance in Battery Production


China currently accounts for about 80% of the global output of raw materials for advanced batteries.  China’s dominance extends beyond battery production alone; the country leads in the entire supply chain, beginning with the extraction of key raw materials such as lithium and cobalt, and encompassing manufacturing and recycling of the end product. With such an encompassing control over the battery market, China indisputably holds a considerable strategic edge.

Appeal to Internalize Battery Production

Recognizing the potential risk of over-reliance on China, there have been calls within the EU to encourage domestic battery production. By fostering home-grown industries, the EU can mitigate external dependence and build resilience. However, achieving this is easier said than done because establishing a European battery supply chain would demand a significant amount of investment, time, and resources.

Measures Towards Self-Sufficiency

Despite the challenges, various measures are underway in the EU to boost battery manufacturing capacities. Several member states, such as Germany and Sweden, have already commissioned battery factories. In addition, the EU has set up the European Battery Alliance, aimed at creating a competitive and sustainable battery value chain in Europe. These strategic steps, while positive for the EU’s energy resilience, require more consistent efforts to ensure its energy future.

In conclusion, while the EU’s decoupling from Russian energy could potentially tip the scales in favor of China, the bloc is aware of the risks and is proactively working towards self-reliance. Maintaining its focus on renewable energy sources and sustainable development, the EU finds itself navigating the tricky waters of the global energy market. We need to see if the EU can effectively manage this transition and establish itself as a self-sufficient force in the world’s energy landscape.