The European Union (EU) has established new rules for battery manufacturers selling in Europe. They must calculate and report the entire carbon footprint of their batteries, from mining to production to recycling. The goal is to set a maximum CO2 limit for batteries produced and imported into Europe to encourage the use of clean energy.
However, the details of how companies will calculate their carbon emissions, including how they can account for the use of renewable energy, are still being worked out. If designed without loopholes, the new battery carbon footprint rules will ensure minimal carbon emissions associated with the massive deployment of batteries, such as in electric cars and renewable energy storage.
The location of battery production is crucial to the carbon footprint of battery production. A battery produced in Sweden would have a carbon footprint of 64 gCO2e/kWh, whereas a battery produced in a higher carbon grid in Germany would have a carbon footprint of 85 gCO2e/kWh. In comparison, a battery produced with the average Chinese grid has a carbon footprint of 105 gCO2e/kWh. Thus, it is essential that the calculation and verification rules for the battery carbon footprint incentivize locating battery production facilities near low-carbon energy sources.
Battery makers can choose to use the average grid emissions of the country where their batteries are produced or plant-specific values. However, the credibility of these claims depends on the rules for calculating these values. The current report by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) would allow battery makers to purchase green energy certificates throughout the EU market, which could lead to significant greenwashing. This is because the current green energy certificate system does not account for real-time energy sourcing or actual energy feeds between consumption and production.