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We are currently in times where many raw materials are scarce and logistics from other parts of the globe are expensive. Lead is a technology that can be reused and recycled easily. The European Commission needs to utilise the strategically autonomous lead supply and recognise the role lead plays in decarbonisation aims.
When discussing Europe’s energy transition goals – involving the electrification of vehicles and generating more energy from renewable solar and wind power – we will need batteries. Demand for all types of batteries during the next decades is growing rapidly as Europe shifts to low carbon technologies, which will increase the need for energy storage.
According to the World Bank, 300% more metals will be needed for the world’s wind turbines by 2050, 200% for solar panels, and 1,000% more for batteries. Europe will need metals to produce all these different batteries, however, many of them are becoming scarce and more expensive to import, with the cost of container shipping from Asia to Europe increasing by 4x compared to 2020. The International Energy Agency (IEA) warns that supply of many critical minerals falls well short of the demand forecasted to support a carbon neutral future.
Our recyclability credentials mean we are fuelling our own industry. Lead is the only battery technology that is truly circular. A new lead battery in Europe is made using 80% recycled content, with nearly 100% of lead batteries collected and recycled at end-of-life. The circularity is far ahead of other battery technologies. To make sure that the clean energy transition is achieved, Europe should use as many lead batteries as possible.
In the end, we will have to make sure that we have enough materials to fuel both battery production, and our path towards a greener society. As we look to the energy technologies needed for decarbonisation, all battery technologies play a role, and Europe must recognise the infinitely recyclable technology, lead.