The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has released a report by Roskill that analyzes the EU’s nickel requirements for EV batteries within the context of the global market over a twenty-year forecast horizon to 2040. Against this demand backdrop, Roskill critically assessed the EU’s internal supply capabilities and identified the risk of future shortages.
The report concluded that the availability of suitable feedstock, rather than processing capacity, is the biggest bottleneck in the nickel sulfate supply chain. The authors suggested that the lowest-risk approach would be a combination of domestic and foreign sourcing.
The report’s main findings include:
- Automotive electrification is expected to represent the single largest growth sector for nickel demand over the next twenty years.
- Demand for nickel from batteries requires a high-purity chemical product (nickel sulfate), which can only be produced from suitable feedstock forms (such as Class I nickel and intermediates). Post-2030, there is limited visibility on new projects able to supply Class I and intermediate nickel products.
- By this stage, nickel units available for recycling from end-of-life (EOL) batteries are likely to become a growing source of raw materials to produce nickel sulfate. There are two tiers of this market balance that need to be considered.
- On an end-use basis (EV sales), Roskill forecasts that the EU27 has the ability to meet internal demand until 2024/25 before deficits emerge.
- On a first-use basis (precursor/cathode maker), although demand is much lower, the supply security of nickel is still a concern. Should a sizeable EOL recycling industry not be established, the researchers expect a supply deficit to form in 2027 and then remain over the rest of the outlook period.
The Roskill analysts identified three key headline areas for policy to address: demand deflation, supply security, and research and development.
Source: Green Car Congress