Batteries and Berlin: a combination with history
In the nineteenth century, Werner von Siemens, the founder of world-famous German corporation Siemens AG, pioneered electrical technology in Berlin. Prior to that, inventions such as the Siemens Pointer telegraph were primarily powered by low capacity and expensive batteries. Of course, the electrification of the world changed history. But now, as the twenty-first century reaches maturity and the energy transition gains urgency, Germany’s capital is again at the heart of the battery industry.
Political framework for battery R&D
Since 2016, the Berlin Climate Protection and Energy Transition Act (EWG Bln) has provided the legal framework for the capital’s ambitious climate-related policies and activities. It incorporates various approaches to clean energy, including solar power and shared heating projects. But when it comes to research and development, battery technology is a top priority. The sector’s importance is also reflected in the Berlin Energy and Climate Protection Programme’s (BEK 2030) five fields of action, with mobility and construction seen as key areas of application for battery storage systems.
These ambitious state initiatives complement a 1.5 billion euro investment programme from the Federal German Government in battery cell research and production.
Strength and depth in numbers
Berlin boasts impressive human resources in the field of batteries: a workforce of around 126,000, some 12,000 engineering graduates specialising in battery-related subjects, and an additional 30,000 scientists doing pioneering work. Some of the city’s most illustrious companies, research institutions, and universities are involved in every step along the battery value chain, from raw materials (Ferdinand Braun Institute, Free University), mechanical engineering (Fraunhofer IPK), and battery cells (Technical University, Helmholtz Centre), to battery systems and applications (Siemens Energy, Schneider Electric), and recycling and second life (Alba Group, betteries).
The result is a wide-ranging ecosystem where knowledge is pooled and the entire sector benefits from synergy effects.
The mobility transition
A key area of application for battery technology is e-mobility. Tesla’s decision to build its European Gigafactory and battery plant in direct proximity to Berlin grabbed headlines around the world. And Tesla isn’t the only automobile giant with ties to the German capital region. The Mercedes Berlin-Marienfelde site is set to become the competence centre for the digitalisation of the global Mercedes-Benz production network. The plant will focus on e-mobility components while gradually phasing out conventional engine and component production, and will assemble the “EE-compartment” for the intelligent integration of power electronics for EQS battery systems.
Business parks and clusters
In 2003, Berlin’s Mayor Wowereit famously described the German capital as “poor, but sexy”. The city’s economy has come along in leaps and bounds since then, with inevitable effects on demand for both commercial and residential property. Nevertheless, Berlin is still a highly attractive location for companies and individuals alike, including in the battery industry. Recent exciting property locations for companies in the area of sustainable and efficient technologies include the CleanTech Business Park in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, the UrbanTechRepublic at the site of the former Tegel Airport, as well as the ever-expanding Adlershof business park.
The city also boasts impressive innovation clusters and interdisciplinary teams that help network companies and offer advice and support to businesses. Prime examples include the clusters Energy Technologies, and Transport, Mobility and Logistics, as well as Berlin Partner for Business and Technology.
With politics, science, and business all providing encouragement and promoting investment, Berlin is in the driving seat to become Europe’s leading battery city, providing sustainable solutions for tomorrow’s world.