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Africa moving up the EV battery value chain

An added benefit of electric vehicles (EVs) is that these climate-friendly cars can assist the electricity grid as a distributed energy resource, by making use of the large battery packs in the vehicle, going beyond just powering mobility.

The South African National Grid is always looking for ways to turn to renewable energy.

In a webinar titled “Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Technology. How batteries within electric vehicles support energy services for the electricity grid” the discussions were focused on vehicle-to-grid technology and the bi-directional power flow of EVs.

Seydou Kane, Managing Director for Africa at Eaton Electrical spoke about the demand for power globally. “There is a 65% increase in power demand globally and it will triple by 2050,” said Kane.

He also mentioned the need to future proof electrical infrastructure for electric vehicles by prioritising energy storage. “Storage is part of the national grid strategy because it will create stable and reliable electricity,” Kane said.

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To develop and grow the African value chain for electric vehicle battery production, the President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo has taken a firm stance on the localisation of manufacturing battery electric vehicles (BEV).

At an earlier gathering at the Global Roundtable for Extractive Industries held by the United Nations, Tshisekedi announced: “Among the diversification options available to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a view to further capturing added value and thus industrialising the Congolese economy, is the local production of lithium batteries instead of continuing to export unprocessed minerals, which accounted for nearly 85% of exports recorded by our country in 2018,” he said.

The DRC supplies about 70% of the world’s cobalt used in the production of batteries, an essential component to power electric vehicles (EVs) and to store energy in solar and wind energy systems. The country is locked in the lower end (mining and mineral processing) of the value chain, capturing only 3% of the global battery and EV value chain. 

Furthermore, he stated that the DRC would be a strong global contender for improving the business of climate, creating a legal framework for development and making the DRC a destination of choice for different classes of investors.

“Our ultimate objective remains the creation of added value by companies wishing to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development objectives – the SDGs –  but also to integrate the local economy into global value chains so as to strengthen the competitiveness of local small and medium-sized enterprises on the one hand, and the creation of decent jobs for young people on the other,” Tshisekedi affirmed. ESI

At the launch of South Africa’s October Transport month, Smarter Mobility Africa tackled dived deeper into topics that include vehicle-to-grid technology, barriers of entry for manufacturing electric vehicles in Africa and giving electric vehicle batteries a second life.