Industry: Europe’s Battery Action Plan should embrace wider range of technologies
The EU’s strategic action plan on batteries needs to consider more than sustainable mobility and embrace other battery technologies if it is to fully recognise the potential of battery energy storage in the transition to a low carbon economy.
The International Lead Association is warning that while the Battery Action Plan announced today (Thursday May 17) is a welcome initiative, the Commission risks putting all its eggs in one technology basket if it fails to support innovation in products including advanced lead batteries, which already play an essential role in Europe’s industrial and social infrastructure. The expected growth in demand for battery energy storage will make it impossible for a single battery technology to provide the storage needed to achieve clean energy targets. Advanced lead batteries, as well as lithium and others, will be required at scale to support the transformation to a decarbonised economy.
In the automotive sector, advanced lead batteries are the cornerstone of start-stop technology that is already reducing carbon emissions from Europe’s vehicle fleet. Meanwhile, industrial lead batteries contribute to the decarbonisation of other sectors, from energy storage and grid stability to warehouse, port logistics and telecommunication. Yet the European Commission fails to include this key technology in its strategic plans, preferring to at best ignore, and at worst actively eliminate, future innovation in an essential battery technology.
Dr Steve Binks, ILA’s Regulatory Director said: “We need to avoid the European battery initiative turning into a zero-sum game by focusing all of its energy on one technology at the expense of all others. That would be damaging for Europe and would significantly hinder progress in electrification, sustainable energy and decarbonisation. “We are calling on the Commission to reconsider how the European Battery Action Plan can be further developed to meet Europe’s future energy storage needs and consider how a smooth functioning of the internal market for all battery technologies can be achieved by ensuring coherence of different regulatory instruments. An example of the current lack of coherence is the REACH Regulation that is targeting the use of lead compounds that are critical for European battery manufacture and risks eliminating a strategically important enabling technology from the portfolio of energy storage solutions necessary to secure our decarbonised future.”
The closed loop recycling process for lead batteries is already one of today’s success stories for the circular economy in action with almost 100% being collected and recycled and new batteries containing up to 85% recycled content sourced from European scrap. The standard design of lead batteries, coupled with a recycling process that is driven by the economic value of the recovered materials, means that they are well integrated into the circular economy and already have many of the attributes of a “green battery” that European Battery Alliance has called for. Far from being a technology of the past, lead batteries have yet to reach their full potential and advances in performance make them ideal solutions for hybrid vehicles and other low carbon technologies such as renewable energy storage.
Lead batteries are a safe, cost-effective and sustainable energy storage solution representing 75 per cent of current global rechargeable battery energy storage and are predicted to remain an important part of the energy storage mix that will power Europe into the future. The mobility battery action plan fails to paint the full picture and as such is an opportunity missed. The development and utilisation of advanced lead batteries should be an important strategic goal and encouraged through a more holistic European battery strategy rather than stunted through competing regulatory frameworks that are aimed at driving substitution of this important enabling technology. End
Notes to editors
For further information contact the ILA Media office:
Hywel Jarman, Jarman@ila-lead.org, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7833 8090; +44 (0) 7718 483887
Niamh McLaughlin, Mclaughlin@ila-lead.org, Tel: +44 (0) 207 833 8090
The International Lead Association is the trusted global trade association for the lead industry and its member companies are at the forefront of the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tonnes of lead. The association is working towards a vision of a sustainable global lead industry that is recognised for the positive contribution it makes to society.