By Gert Meylemans, Director Communications and Stewardship, EUROBAT
As Europe debates the future of clean energy during EU Sustainable Energy Week, the EU’s battery industry continues to charge the EU with sustainable growth, innovation and circular economy success.
The EU’s battery industry is integral to powering essential products and services including vehicles, renewable energy storage, back-up for mobile telecoms and data centres. All battery technologies have a place in EU society and are used for various applications including industrial energy, powering forklift trucks and throughout the rail and mass transit industry – all battery chemistries have a place in Europe’s current and future energy systems.
Our 2020 study into battery production in Europe (lead, nickel and lithium in particular) was conducted to understand if the EU battery industry will be able to cope with future demand with our market outlook concluding that the energy transition will drive battery to double/triple than current rates. While it concluded that all chemistries will be required to satisfy the demand, lithium and lead will be the dominant chemistries the next decade.
This was the key theme of our recent Batteries Event session – held jointly with the world’s only research organisation dedicated to lead battery innovation, the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) and leading EUROBAT members Hoppecke and Clarios.
We further discussed how lead-based technology will remain almost exclusively the preferred technology for 12V automotive applications, while continuing to be the dominant technology for UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) applications providing 90% of global demand and increasing by 5.5 GWh by 2030. With telecoms providing a future market push for lithium, currently these batteries are almost exclusively lead-based.
For Europe to retain its strong position in 2030 and remain highly competitive ongoing investment is needed to maintain as well as improve production rates and support R&D.
One key way to harness this opportunity is accelerating innovation – as highlighted in the Technical Roadmap recently launched by CBI Research and Innovation Manager Dr. Carl Telford. It sets out key research priorities for the industry for all applications using lead batteries. Including a focus on energy storage systems solutions where lead batteries play a major role – from utility and renewable energy storage projects to hybrid solutions – the opportunities to enhance lead batteries through research and innovation have huge potential.
Clarios’ Dr. Christian Rosenkranz and Hoppecke’s Bernhard Riegel explored both CBI and EUROBAT Roadmaps, highlighting the strong innovation potential of all battery technologies and their contribution to the EU Green Deal, Fit for 55, and net zero pollution goals.
Alongside this impact, the high recyclability of lead batteries was pointed out as a key advantage for the upcoming years. With almost all lead batteries collected at end of life being recycled and each new one made from up to 80% waste materials, the growth of the industry is fuelled by raw materials from itself. These all point to the sustainable growth driven by the EU battery industry – a requirement for a truly sustainable energy future for the EU.
Read more from EUROBAT on the state of play of the Batteries Regulation