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Chinese car manufacturer Xiaopeng at the IAA in Munich: Dangerous addiction

Photo: Manfred Segerer / IMAGO

The Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union warns the international community against dependence on China for lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells. Without appropriate countermeasures, the EU could become as dependent on China by 2030 as it was for Russia's energy supply before the war in Ukraine, experts warn in a strategy paper prepared for EU leaders. It is intended to form the basis for discussions on Europe's economic security at the EU summit in Granada, Spain, at the beginning of October.

The paper states that Europe will need energy storage due to volatile wind and solar energy to meet its goal of zero greenhouse gases by 2050. This will increase EU demand for lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells and electrolysers, which are needed in hydrogen technology, by a factor of 10 to 30 in the coming years.

Significant weaknesses

"Without the implementation of effective measures, the European energy ecosystem could become dependent on China by 2030 that is different but similar in severity to that of Russia before the invasion of Ukraine," the authors of the paper write. The EU has a strong position in the production of electrolysers, but is heavily dependent on China for fuel cells and LI-ion batteries, which are needed for electric cars.

Lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells are not the only areas where the EU is vulnerable, the paper adds. A similar scenario could occur with digital technologies. Forecasts indicate that demand for sensors, drones, servers, storage devices and data transmission networks, for example, will rise sharply in this decade. The EU has a relatively strong position in networks, but has significant weaknesses in other areas.