Australia’s battery opportunities growing fast

Australia’s battery opportunity has doubled in the past 18 months driven by demand, according to a new report by the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC).

The report estimates the battery industry could provide $16.9 billion per annum in value-add and support 61,400 local jobs by 2030.

The report, Charging Ahead – Australia’s Battery Powered Future, analysed global and geopolitical influences on the potential growth of Australia’s battery industries, as a major supplier of battery minerals.

The report, spanning Australia’s resource, energy, industrial, foreign affairs and international trade policies, highlights the impressive growth of Australia’s battery industry, across the supply chain and commercialisation spectrum.

FBICRC CEO Shannon O’Rourke said: “The time to act is now as our comprehensive report has shown.

“In light of recent geopolitical developments, our report has shown Australian policy-makers should explore more aggressive industry policies, target markets that are looking to diversify their supply chains, and partner with geopolitical allies to enable and enhance the potential growth of Australia’s battery industry.”

FBICRC said expansion could be supported by the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.

O’Rourke said: “The challenge is to help build the Australian manufacturing ecosystem and get it to scale. Measures like the National Reconstruction Fund are essential to give Australian business an opportunity to compete at world scale.”

Report author Shaun Chau, Sustainability Services Managing Director at Accenture in Australia, said the opportunity for Australia to grow its role in the battery supply chain is large.

“However, other nations have also woken up to the prospect. To capitalise, Australian industry, government and universities need to move decisively and quickly to create the right enabling environment, attract and develop the appropriate capabilities and ready a coordinated industry for action.”

Batteries are manufactured through a complex value chain from mining and then refining of raw materials, through to the manufacturing of cells then battery packs, and finally integration and end-of-life.

FBICRC said Australia was cost competitive but will need to lean into its comparative advantages of mineral diversity, reliability, security and ESG credentials to capture the opportunity across the value chain.

The report suggested Australia should rapidly pursue substantial policy initiatives to attract global industry investment; consider more aggressive industry policies in the face of increased foreign economic nationalism; reposition the export focus for batteries and battery material supply on countries seeking to diversify their supply chains; and pursue partnerships with geopolitical allies, in order to capitalise on the opportunities at hand.

FBICRC’s Flagship project, the Cathode Precursor Production Pilot Plant in Western Australia, is one of many FBICRC projects building Australia’s presence throughout the global battery value chain.

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Picture: FBICRC

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