The lead battery has proven essential during the pandemic, while we can continue to rely on the EU-centric lead battery supply chain.
By Penelope Ferri, Group Human Resources and Corporate Communication, Director, FIAMM Energy Technology S.p.A
It is becoming clear to everyone that the effect of COVID-19 will last for many years and will change the way the world operates.
In Italy, at the time of writing this article, more than 270,000 infections and more than 35,000 deaths have been recorded. Italy was in full and partial lockdown for over three months and society is now learning to restart with careful precautions.
FIAMM Energy Technology, headquartered in the Veneto Region of Italy, has been at the centre of one of the two major areas outbreaks in the country. During lockdown, the ‘manufacture of batteries and accumulators’ was permitted as it was deemed an essential service. FIAMM Energy Technology was one of the few granted permission to continue with the production and delivery of products. Lead batteries are a critical element for a wide range of emergency back-up systems and are an essential component for vehicles that commit the daily commute and distribute goods. As the rest of the world ground to a standstill, lead batteries continued to power these critical elements of it forward.
One early emergency that FIAMM Energy technology was able to support was the replacement of batteries in Brescia city hospital, one of the most affected medical facilities in Italy. Batteries were able to provide crucial support to ensure electricity supply, keep life support machines running, enable medical equipment deliveries, and more in the fight against COVID-19.
The pandemic has affected supply across the world, with the risks around clean energy supply chains, including those of minerals, becoming more apparent. For example, Peru’s copper-mining activities, covering 12% of global production, ground to a halt because of the country’s confinement measures.
The same circumstances hit other industries which experienced shortages of materials coming from impacted areas. Therefore, it becomes key in this scenario to re-think the future of supply, re-focusing on the opportunities available or on what can be developed regionally/locally and, most importantly, the potential offered by Europe’s strong circular economy credentials
Customers have already been able to rely on the strategically autonomous lead battery chain. As we move towards economic recovery, technologies that embody circular economy principles will be valued more. The EU-based lead battery value chain is an exemplar of this. Lead batteries are designed to be recycled at end-of-life with more than 90% of their material being recovered. The COVID-19 crisis has clearly shown, ‘local’, meaning ‘made in Europe’, is critical in ensuring the continuity of social and economic activities.
The European lead battery industry also supports economic growth and employment in Europe as it employs tens of thousands of people. Video conferencing and telephone calls have played a critical role in the survival of personal and commercial relationships during the crisis. What was once a face to face meeting with a colleague is now conducted by video or phone call. Lead batteries are playing a crucial role in providing energy storage support for data centres and mobile phones, meaning that none of this global communication revolution would have been possible without the role of batteries.
Read more for why batteries made in Europe are key to a swift economic rebound post COVID-19.
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