OTTAWA — As Canada’s largest trading partners transform their economies to be cleaner and more competitive, one aspect of that shift is clear: batteries will be the engines of the modern world.
Canada has a once-in-generation opportunity to establish itself as a major player in the global battery sector, according to a new Clean Energy Canada report reflecting the opinions of stakeholders across the electric vehicle supply chain, including General Motors Canada, Lion Electric, the Mining Association of Canada, the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, Unifor, and many others.
Canada has the right ingredients for a successful battery sector, the experts told Clean Energy Canada in a roundtable convened in March. With its known deposits of critical metals and minerals, automotive heritage, plenty of clean electricity (to power operations), and access to a well-integrated North American market, Canada could be a top supplier of sustainable batteries.
But more action is needed to build our domestic industry, and Canada’s window of opportunity to enter the battery market is now. Each of the “Detroit Three” automakers have announced major electric vehicle assembly investments in Canada over the past eight months, and President Joe Biden’s proposed $2-trillion infrastructure plan would pour US$174 billion into developing the EV market. The report outlines a set of immediate must-dos for Canada to get into the battery game, including:
- developing a North American Battery Alliance within the next year to leverage the Canada-U.S. auto market;
- unlocking the potential of Canada’s sustainable battery metals, minerals, and materials supply;
- launching a dedicated battery supply chain fund to address challenges and invest in strategic projects;
- promoting Canada’s clean and responsible battery brand to attract investment;
- and supporting a robust EV market in North America to ensure there is sufficient demand for batteries and the materials that go into them.
There has been plenty of talk around Canada’s big battery opportunity, stakeholders said, but talk must now turn into action—and there’s no time to waste.
- The report was informed by stakeholders from the following organizations: The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, The Battery Metals Association of Canada, the Delphi Group, Electric Mobility Canada, Unifor, The Lion Electric Co., Dunsky Energy Consulting, Lithion Recycling, the Mining Association of Canada, Li-Cycle, E3 Metals, the Transition Accelerator, General Motors Canada, E-One Moli Energy (Canada), Magna International, Propulsion Québec, Blue Solutions Canada, and Polaris Strategy + Insight.
- The global market for lithium-ion batteries is expected to exceed $100 billion by 2030. The vast majority of this growing demand will come from electric cars, buses, and trucks.
- The production of certain metals and minerals could increase by up to nearly 500% over the next three decades to meet growing demand for clean technologies.
- Currently, 80% of the world’s batteries are produced in Japan, South Korea, and China.
- The EU plans to become entirely self-sufficient on EV batteries by 2025 and is now the world’s top market for EVs and top destination for EV-related investments.
- Ford Motor Co. plans to spend nearly $2 billion on its Oakville, Ontario, plant to produce five EV models starting in 2025. The project will include federal and provincial contributions of $295 million each.
- Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) will invest up to $1.5 billion to create its own electric vehicle platform in the province, and General Motors will start building electric commercial vans in Ontario this year. Both automakers were in discussions with the federal and provincial government about financial support.
- In March 2021, Lion Electric (a Quebec-based manufacturer of electric buses and trucks) announced the construction of a battery module and pack manufacturing plant and innovation centre in Quebec. The factory will begin operations in early 2023 and will benefit from $100 million in federal and provincial government support.
- The federal government’s 2021 budget included various measures to support the development of a battery supply chain:
- a 50% cut in the general corporate and small business income tax rates for businesses that manufacture zero-emission technologies, including EV batteries;
- $5 billion in addition to an existing $3 billion to help decarbonize heavy industry and support clean technologies;
- $36.8 million to advance critical battery mineral processing and refining expertise;
- and $9.6 million to create a Critical Battery Minerals Centre of Excellence at Natural Resources Canada.
- The battery recycling industry is set to triple its capacity by 2030 as a large wave of batteries reach the end of their lives. Canada is home to at least two North-America-leading battery recycling companies, Lithion Recycling and Li-Cycle.