A bright future for lead
I spoke at two conferences last week, one organised by analysts from the commodities group CRU, the other an event for Metal Bulletin. On both occasions I was making the case for the future of lead. On both occasions I found myself correcting misperceptions about the future of lead and lead batteries, and I was able to set the record straight based on hard data. It’s clear to me and many in the industry that lead and lead products can enjoy a bright future, if we seize the opportunities that global policy changes are presenting. That change involves the transformation being driven by electrification in the motor industry and the rapidly expanding demand for renewable energy and the storage of energy in batteries.
Future opportunities: renewable energy storage Many industries – from fossil fuel giants to the car-makers – are going through significant adjustments as they attempt to map out the road ahead. Lead metal is integral to the battery industry and this is our opportunity to seize the day. The basis for my optimism is the likely growth in the worldwide battery market which of itself will see lead batteries continuing to supply a major share. It’s becoming a cliché, but it’s worth repeating, that even electric cars rely on lead batteries for safety and reliability. However, perhaps the most significant revolution is taking place in renewable energy, where the need for storage far outweighs current capacity for lead batteries and other technologies. In other words – we need advanced lead batteries together with lithium batteries to meet the forecast demand for renewable energy storage long into the future. Through our research centre at ALABC we are preparing the ground for the next generation of lead batteries, and we’re already seeing increasing demand for lead battery storage supporting solar and wind farms worldwide. In Europe where policy-makers are forging ahead with decarbonisation plans, lead and lithium batteries together represent the only viable way of meeting the continent’s burgeoning battery energy storage needs. And lead batteries are already proving the most sustainable product, operating in a closed loop with almost 100 % recycling rates in both Europe and the US. This is the circular economy in action