A new report from Clean Energy Canada and the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing calls on the federal and provincial governments to act swiftly to capitalize on a window of opportunity to build a homegrown EV battery supply chain that could support up to 250,000 jobs by 2030
A new report released today finds that Canada has the potential to add $48 billion and up to 250,000 jobs to its economy through the rapid expansion of a domestic electric vehicle battery supply chain — but only if it seizes on the opportunity to act now.
The report was a joint release by climate and clean energy think tank Clean Energy Canada and Ontario-based Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing. Entitled “Canada’s New Economic Engine,” the document examines how Canada can build on its potential for an end-to-end domestic battery supply chain that will help to boost the Canadian economy by millions and create thousands of jobs at the same time.
“Canada has all the right ingredients to be a battery powerhouse, from the necessary mineral resources to leading cleantech companies. But it’s vital that Canada acts swiftly and decisively, or it risks squandering thousands of jobs and billions of dollars,” says Evan Pivnick, clean energy program manager at Clean Energy Canada in a press note.
Where opportunities lie
In recent years, Canada has made significant strides in attracting major investments in mineral exploration and mining, battery manufacturing and EV assembly. But the report warns that there is more to be done and offers four scenarios that examine the potential of the Canadian EV battery supply chain.
In a scenario where the government is “off-target” and fails to gain any more investments in the supply chain than what the country currently has, those contributions will create just 60,000 jobs and contribute only $12 billion to Canada’s GDP.
In the most ambitious scenario, if the government is able to go above and beyond its zero-emission sales targets and is able to add more new mines, attract new investment in battery materials, cathode production and recycling and be able to build one more major battery cells facility in the country, then it has the potential to create up to 250,000 jobs by 2030 and boost the Canadian economy by $48 billion annually.
“Across the four scenarios developed, the results are clear: the more Canada goes big on batteries, the more jobs and economic benefits await,” says the report.
Canada, says the report, has the capability to carry out all the stages of a successful battery supply chain, from mining to various components of building a battery to manufacturing an EV. But there is room for improvement. “A more effective strategy would double down on a few key stages where the opportunity is greatest,” reads the report.
Those “key stages” include EV assembly, battery cell manufacturing and integrated battery material manufacturing.
“Realizing Canada’s fully charged battery potential will depend on government-led climate and economic action. It will require us to reach Canada’s electric vehicle sales targets and ensure nearly all assembly plants are focused on EVs,” says the report.
“It will also mean accelerating critical mineral projects, filling key gaps in the battery materials stage, and attracting at least one more battery gigafactory (in addition to the Stellantis-LG facility announced in March).”
The report provides six recommendations to leverage Canada’s opportunity.
The top of the list: develop a public-facing, national battery strategy that outlines Canada’s competitive battery advantages, sets out targets for investment and production capacity, and identifies where the opportunities lie.
When it comes to securing investment in the battery supply chain, Canada faces stiff competition. The country has lost out on opportunities with companies looking to scale up fast due to slow decision-making, says the report.
In order to accelerate project development, the report recommends coordinating infrastructure and land requirements for projects, as well as developing dependable and effective review processes for projects along the supply chain.
Canada should also highlight its many advantages for producing clean batteries such as having low-carbon critical minerals, cutting-edge battery research and recycling ecosystem. There is also abundant clean electricity supply, which draws investment into the battery supply chain and creates more export opportunities.
In terms of the EV market, sales in North America are significantly lagging behind Europe and Asia. The report says Canada needs to support the growth of a robust EV market by building interest and demand and installing a national EV charging network.
As well, the country needs to focus on its workforce and find strategies to engage and attract more talent to the industry.
On a final point, the report recommends leveraging investments from battery cell manufacturing companies such as LG Chem to support the development of innovative battery technology companies in Canada to boost resiliency and intellectual property.
“The opportunity to build a fully integrated EV battery supply chain is in front of us. The work has begun, but there is lots more to do,” says Brendan Sweeney, managing director of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing.
“Better integrating Canada’s mining and manufacturing industries can yield massive economic and social benefits, but will require a level of government support — and political willpower — that we have not seen since the 1960s.”
A copy of the full report can be found here.