The future of Europe’s 5G power relies on lead battery innovation

The future of Europe’s 5G power relies on lead battery innovation

As the EU looks to accelerate the ‘Digital Decade’, policymakers, researchers and entrepreneurs must recognise the role of lead batteries to the future of research and innovation in Europe.

By: Grant Clark, VP Product Management – Energy Systems Global, EnerSys®

The European Commission’s strategy to become a ‘Europe Fit for the Digital Age’ aims to make this transformation work for people and businesses, with a clear focus on data, technology, and infrastructure. This year also marks the start of Horizon Europe, the EU’s most ambitious research and innovation programme ever. The time for research and innovation in harnessing the potential of 5G is now.

The vision of 5G is the speed, responsiveness and connectivity that enable ground-breaking capabilities. These will be for citizens – such as through autonomous vehicles, gaming, AR/VR – as well as industry concepts such as telemedicine and Industry 4.0. 5G networks are expected to be at least 10 times faster than current 4G LTE networks. The result will be a connected world that can improve or accelerate everything from manufacturing, healthcare, aerospace to agriculture and transportation.

Building these networks is an enormous undertaking, and 5G deployment creates new requirements for power conversion as well as an exponential demand in energy storage. The new solutions require more energy density along with new system configurations to meet the changing 5G landscape.

The ‘macro cell’ that provides extensive coverage from towers and rooftops is the workhorse for wireless networks, with their power requirements varying significantly. As new shelters or battery cabinets are added to enable 5G, battery back-up needs also to change. In Europe, battery reserve has typically been 2 hours or less. But for 5G services, some operators provide little or no backup to save cost and expedite initial deployment. They instead rely on 4G equipment, which is normally backed up. This immediate cost-saving technique may work today but is not sustainable once 5G services become standard in society. When battery backup is required, adding advanced lead-based technologies such as Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) batteries can be a cost-effective option. Their increased expected battery life, longer service life and higher energy density can provide a viable solution for the critical back-up needed to meet the requirements of Europe’s 5G networks.

Our own work with the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI), the world’s only advanced battery research group supporting EU-based companies, is testament to that. Within the last 10 years, the EU battery manufacturing industry has collectively spent over €2 billion on research and innovation.

With lead batteries already capable of delivering innovative, reliable and affordable energy storage, their role in supporting uninterrupted access to 5G services today is critical. Through continued innovation investment, they will help make Europe the best place to nurture the advanced digital technologies that will transform our economy and society in the future.

Read more on the metal fuelling the EU’s homegrown battery powerhouse.

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