WA Government Boosts Backing For Battery Industry Research Centre Bid

Stating Western Australia to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for battery materials, the McGowan Government has stumped up more funds to back a bid seeking to establish the Future Batteries Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBI CRC) in Perth.

Australia and Western Australia in particular has significant resources of “new energy” raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, vanadium, graphite and various rare earth elements required for manufacturing batteries for solar energy, electric vehicle and other applications.

The boom in electric cars alone could more than quadruple global demand for cobalt to in excess of 408,000 tonnes by 2030 according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance1

The aim of the FBI CRC is to help position Australia globally as a strategic partner providing a reliable supply of high quality battery materials.

Beyond digging stuff out of the ground and shipping it elsewhere to be value-added, something this country has excelled at, The FBI CRC will also examine opportunities for value-adding, manufacturing energy storage systems and associated technologies, plus assist in establishing government policies and regulations to help domestic and export growth in future battery industries. Additionally, it will also look comprehensive recycling capacity for high value energy materials.

Western Australia’s Government states it has invested $5.5 million through the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (previously announced), plus another $500,000 from the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation to support a bid for the FBI CRC to call Perth home.

“The McGowan Government is proud to be a partner in a project of global significance with the potential to transform the nation’s use of energy through collaborative research,”  said Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston. “A CRC based in Perth will provide substantial economic benefits and create new jobs in the growing battery metals and mining equipment, technology and services sectors.”

Cooperative Research Centres are jointly funded by industry participants, research organisations and Federal Government for up to 10 years. The FBI CRC is proposed to be 5 years, depending on final research project time lines. Western Australia’s businesses and government had targeted $25 million to support the bid, but pooled $27 million by early July. Should the Perth bid be successful, the Federal Government will kick in another $25 million.

Stage 1 expression of interest applications closed early this month and Stage 2 has commenced. The successful bid will be announced in March next year, with the FBI CRC commencing in July 2019.

Footnotes

  1. While some battery makers are reducing cobalt use, electric vehicle production increases will apparently overwhelm any reduction of cobalt intensity, meaning ongoing supply issues.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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