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Seeking government help to prevent lithium battery and renewable energy start-ups from exiting Australia

Australia has all the ingredients to become a renewable manufacturing superpower, but some start-ups still have their sights set overseas.

Australia currently supplies 60% of the world’s lithium It also boasts extensive reserves of nearly all raw materials required to manufacture lithium-ion batteries.

However, most of these materials are for the international market.

Sicona Battery Technologies is a start-up based in the Illawarra region of New South Wales that hopes to carve out a slice of the renewable pie.

The company manufactures silicone composites that dramatically improve the performance of the fuel sources driving the electric vehicle (EV) revolution.

“The materials we commercialize are [lithium] The battery will be effectively improved,” said Christiaan Jordaan, Sicona’s Chief Executive Officer.

“We can extend the range of electric vehicles, reduce initial costs and charge batteries faster.”

Christiaan Jordaan says Australia should do more to harness renewable manufacturing.(ABC Illawarra: Tim Fernandez)

Composites are expected to grow into a $55 billion annual industry.

This is just a fraction of the global lithium battery industry projected to be worth $5 trillion annually by 2040.

“This is a huge opportunity and a huge market that is growing rapidly,” Jordaan said.

“If so, it’s a new industrial revolution.”

Sicona commercializes technology developed at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and operates a pilot plant from its Illawarra warehouse.

The company’s founders met with major battery manufacturers and are confident that future growth lies abroad.

“Fortunately, unfortunately, the real big opportunity at the moment is in the US market,” Jordaan said.

“In the new year, we will make a big move into the U.S. market and launch there for commercial scale manufacturing.”

big opportunities abroad

commercial laboratory
Sicona wants to upgrade from a small pilot plant in its Wollongong warehouse.(Provided by: Sikona)

The global race to build lithium battery manufacturing capacity is heating up.

China currently leads the world with about 80% of global capacity, while other countries spend a lot of money to fill the gap.

The US has put $2.8 billion into growing the domestic EV manufacturing industry.

The funding will target the entire supply chain, from raw materials to supporting technology, inviting companies to expand into the United States.

“Governments like the US and Europe are trying to encourage companies like Sikona to do their manufacturing in Australia instead of here,” Jordaan said.

“The Australian government, like other governments like the US, needs to incentivize local manufacturing…Many protectionist policies are in place.

“Australia is blessed with all the raw materials and resources, and we have everything else in terms of skill sets to manufacture batteries and battery materials domestically. We need to capture more of that value. ”

Long-term bipartisan support

short hair man wearing light blue suit jacket and blue shirt
Ty Christopher said Australia is competing with “mature” competitors in the battery manufacturing market.(ABC Illawarra: Tim Fernandez)

Director of UOW’s Energy Futures Network, Ty Christopher has helped startups grow from campus to commercial labs.

He has also seen these companies leave Australia for greener pastures abroad.

“The reality is that it’s a global competitive landscape for high-tech and clean energy,” said Christopher.

“As we sit here today, I think it’s a great shame for our country that we have to import almost all of this technology and the actual physical equipment.

“For technology developed here in Australia to stay here, we need to provide equal or better incentives.”

commercial lab equipment
As Australia does not have a domestic battery manufacturing industry, start-ups will have to shop for overseas customers.(Provided by: Sikona)

Australian First commercial lithium battery factory It will operate in the NSW Hunter region.

However, it is unclear when the facility will begin making batteries suitable for small electric vehicles.

Christopher said Australian start-ups face intense international competition and need consistent public support across multiple governments.

“This is a challenge that requires long-term and invested commitment from all levels of government,” he said.

“It requires a commitment to run several election cycles, which is always a challenge.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-28/calls-government-support-lithium-battery-renewable-energy/101793740 Seeking government help to prevent lithium battery and renewable energy start-ups from exiting Australia

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