The world’s largest economies are ramping up their climate ambitions and radically reimagining their economies. Canada too must not only identify where our strategic opportunities lie in a future net-zero world—but also take steps today to ensure those opportunities don’t pass us by.
Canada has a once-in-generation opportunity to establish itself as a major player in the global battery sector, but that window will close with or without us.
Why must Canada act now?
First is the scale of the opportunity. Driven largely, though not exclusively, by the rapid growth in electric vehicle manufacturing, the global market for lithium-ion batteries is expected to grow exponentially over the next few decades, as will demand for the metals and minerals that supply them.
Second, the benefits for Canada are economy-spanning. With known deposits of critical metals and minerals, plenty of clean electricity (to power lower-carbon operations), and access to a well-integrated North American market, Canada can do more than merely extract and supply the raw materials—we can
be a leading supplier of sustainable battery materials and a producer of cutting-edge technology.
And finally, developing Canada’s battery supply chain will help anchor our existing auto sector, ensuring we capture the jobs and value created in the transition to electric vehicles.
With Asia and Europe accelerating ahead, North America needs to catch up—or lose global market share.
In the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership released earlier this year, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau identified the battery supply chain as a collaborative opportunity for our two nations.
But despite actions taken to date, industry stakeholders
felt that Canada is still a long way from having a mature battery supply chain. Which is why Clean Energy Canada convened experts across the supply chain—including mining, battery manufacturing, auto parts and assembly, and battery recycling—to identify these no-regrets priority actions Canada must take in the immediate-term to establish itself as a player in the global battery industry.
1. Form an intergovernmental battery secretariat to
enable decision-makers across departments and levels of government to act quickly, nimbly, and in a coordinated way.
Photo credit: Blue Solutions
2. Immediately convene an industry-led Canadian battery task force to deliver advice to governments on how to develop Canada’s battery industry by the end of 2021.
3. Develop a North American Battery Alliance within the next year to leverage the integrated Canada-U.S. market, connect players along the supply chain, and drive capital investment.
4. Unlock Canada’s sustainable battery metals, minerals, and materials supply to realize one of Canada’s major value propositions and attract battery-related investment.
5. Ramp up Canada’s midstream supply chain capacity to feed battery materials and components to regional auto manufacturers.
6. Launch a dedicated battery supply chain fund to address challenges and invest in strategic projects along the Canadian value chain.
7. Better promote Canada’s clean and responsible battery brand to secure investment and attract OEMs and tier 1 battery producers to locate their facilities here.
8. Create a government-funded, industry-led Battery Centre of Excellence focused on commercializing advanced battery technology and manufacturing R&D.
9. Grow demand for batteries in North America to ensure there is sufficient demand for EVs, batteries, and their input materials and parts.
The battery supply chain is a key one for Canada, as acknowledged by the federal government in its most recent climate plan and last month’s budget. But action matters more than talk, and more action will be needed to build a domestic industry.
To read the full report by Clean Energy Canada, please click here.