For our latest e-book on the electromobility and battery sector in CEE, we spoke with Péter Kaderják, Managing Director of the Hungarian Battery Association about how Hungarian businesses have been affected by the new EU Battery Regulation entered into force this summer, the challenges related to keeping a low carbon footprint and the competitiveness of the region following the adoption of new incentives worldwide, like the US Inflation Reduction Act.
Q: Overall, what do you think are the main advantages of the new regulation? On the contrary, what challenges still remain and delegated acts?
A: We have welcomed the new regulation after all the years of regulatory work. It will create a level of certainty for battery players which is something very needed. However, because we still have to wait for implementing acts and additional regulations from the Commission’s side, there are still some uncertainties. The most important aspect is that it will help move the European battery industry towards a sustainable path. And it is especially true for Hungary where major investments are taking place by foreign investors, especially from Korea, China and Japan. This regulation is important to inform investors of the conditions in which they will operate.
Still, there is work to be done, it is a learning process. In fact, the Hungarian Battery Association is planning to create some workshops and trainings to assist in this learning process, trying to be active in supporting our members (which currently account for 78). But it is not just the battery regulation that will define this industry, but the whole package of regulation part of the Green Deal and the Fit-for-55, like for example the AFIR regulation which will definitely impact the EV industry and the battery one as well. Furthermore, this sector will receive additional support as part of the Net Zero Industrial Plan proposed by the Commission.
Finally, I would like to mention the Critical Raw Material Act with its specific targets. So we have a significant body of regulation that must be finalised and there is still a lot of work to do. In Hungary it is important to emphasise that European policies are not only about using green energy solutions but also for an industry that serves the green transition and the battery industry should be considered as a key sector.
Q: Focusing on recycling and second-life/ re-use, for example, in China, the OEMs have to test the batteries first. If they are still usable, they have to reuse them instead of recycle them. Is this a practice we can adopt here as well?
A: Absolutely yes, it is something we should use more in Europe as well. EV batteries are designed in a way to serve the full lifetime cycle of cars. Even after that, batteries still have 80 per cent of the original capacity to store electricity, so at the end of this first life we have the opportunity of additional years of usage. Second-life applications can take the form of containers, energy storage for households and so on. In Hungary, we have some ongoing projects, like the one carried out by Alteo, one of our members, who built a grid-scale battery storage facility (5 MWh) partly composed of used car batteries and it is already in operation in Hungary. I have seen similar applications also in Austria, so it is becoming a growing business especially now that the first wave of electric cars will finish the first life cycle. The big question is: how can we ensure that used batteries are safely applied in the new applications?
To read the entire interview, download our e-book “Electromobility in CEE: can the Region Maintain Its Competitive Edge?” for free!