The outlook for batteries in 2021


Stefan Buch, Health

Safety and Environment Manager

ECOBAT Technologies

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The outlook for batteries in 2021

The new year could prove to be the most positive yet for batteries in Europe. As countries look to rebuild economies ravaged by the pandemic, achieving green growth will be a priority. ECOBAT’s Stefan Buch assesses the year ahead.

After a devastating year in Europe, lead manufacturers and recyclers as well as battery manufacturers are looking forward to a fresh start as 2021 beckons.

It will undoubtedly be a year of change and opportunity. The proposal for a new Batteries Regulation, published by the European Commission on 10 December 2020 is designed to create the conditions that will help the EU thrive as a centre of excellence for sustainable production and recycling. Today, the lead battery is the best example ⁠– it is indeed a technology of excellence ⁠– for circular economy. A well-known and adequately controlled product along the supply chain that other products must take as an exemplar of circular economy principles.

Legislators in the European Parliament are also calling for a revision of the EU’s industrial strategy, to ensure a stronger focus on recovery and build a more resilient economic bloc in the face of global competition from China. A raft of other legislative measures could also impact the battery and recycling industries.

All this as the EU’s leaders call for greater ‘strategic autonomy’ and raw material security – reducing reliance on external suppliers and building a strong and innovative manufacturing base.

Meanwhile, as countries prepare for 2021’s COP26 climate summit, the impacts to strategy and policy will be far-reaching. With further commitments to renewable energy, demand for lead batteries – crucial to stabilising grids and balancing power supplies – could increase significantly.

For the lead battery industry, the lead manufacturer and recycler, and the wider lead value chain, we have an opportunity to demonstrate that we are very much part of the solution to achieving a low carbon future. Demand for reliable rechargeable battery energy storage will grow substantially in the next decade according to all analysts. And only those chemistries capable of operating at scale will be able to deliver.

As part of Europe’s battery eco-system, the lead battery is the only battery technology today offering closed loop recycling of almost all batteries collected at the end-of-life. And almost every lead battery manufactured today in Europe and worldwide contains around 80% recycled lead, rounded up by almost 100% collection and one of the highest Recycling Efficiencies achieved by recycling.

As Charge the Future demonstrates, the technology is key to providing uninterrupted power supply, the transition to electric mobility and many other applications. The boom in renewables energy storage, which Goldman Sachs predicts will become the largest area of spending in the energy industry in 2021, is a huge opportunity for our technology. You can see how lead batteries are already supporting energy storage projects in Europe and globally here.

Either way, the solution does not rest with one battery technology alone. A range of technologies will be required to meet this demand and lead and lithium batteries will play a key role, both are at present the options with the scale and capability to meet this requirement.

Our priority must be to continue to innovate and ensure our strengths and capabilities are understood and supported across the legislative and political spectrum.

Read more for why the EU should value the strategically autonomous lead battery industry.

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