Lead batteries – supporting EU sustainability goals with low carbon motive power


Karsten Kurz

Director of Environmental Affairs Europe

Exide Technologies

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Lead batteries – supporting EU sustainability goals with low carbon motive power

Lead batteries support the transition to an energy-efficient, decarbonised society through their use in clean motive applications.

The European Commission’s Industrial Strategy aims to accelerate the transition towards climate neutrality while encouraging economic recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19. Cities and urban administrations have established creative, resilient responses to the pandemic. This year, European Mobility Week celebrates these achievements, while seeking to maintain this sustainable momentum. During the pandemic, lead batteries supported clean mobility and clean motive power solutions.

In 2020, forklifts (and other logistics equipment) played a significant role in ensuring the movement of goods and services across the world as online sales increased. Despite plant and importer closures in 2020 due to the pandemic, global forklift orders increased by 8% from the previous year. It’s estimated that based on Q1 2021 figures, when extrapolated for the full year, orders could increase by 44% compared to 2020.

Economies worldwide are seeking to rebuild and invest, restoring economies affected by the pandemic. Plans are underway to rebuild airports, rail networks and power plants. As investment and construction escalate in Europe, the efficient movement of goods and services are needed now more than ever. This efficiency needs to be low carbon – pushing an increase in the demand for electric forklifts and other clean motive power applications. All of this will increase the demand for forklifts, which is driving the nearly 8% growth in global motive battery demand through 2030.

Today, forklifts are a nearly $50 billion industry essential to e-commerce, retail sectors, warehousing and logistics, and industrialisation in emerging markets. As new construction accelerates, electric forklifts operating on battery power will do the heavy lifting, transferring essential materials from warehouses to workers, removing reliance on fossil fuels to do so.

In industrial electric vehicles, lead batteries currently represent 90% of global demand, despite a growing market share for lithium-based chemistries,  As the global motive power market is predicted to grow to 34.3 GWh by 2030, lead batteries will continue to play an important role in meeting this increased demand.

Meanwhile, Europe needs to decarbonise rapidly to meet the EU’s commitments to climate action outlined in the Paris Agreement. Clean energy alternatives are required for a variety of applications.

As electric forklifts present cleaner alternatives to those using international combustion engines (ICE), they provide the low carbon option to fit that demand. Producing the batteries for a comparable fleet of electric forklifts will emit 83.5% less CO2 than operating its ICE counterpart.

The use of lead battery technology in electric forklifts and other clean energy applications is critical to helping industry sectors, as well as policymakers, achieve low carbon targets.

Abridged from an article originally published by Essential Energy Everyday.

Read more on how battery energy storage is ‘Fit for 55’.

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