Lead-acid battery market primed for growth with EVs?

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The next wave of lead battery adoption could come from electric vehicles (EVs), but it would mean auto manufacturers opting for lead charge batteries over lithium ion battery.

While lithium-ion batteries have built a remarkable presence, lead-acid batteries are still decades ahead in terms of production costs, adoption and recycling: Lead-acid batteries are 99% recyclable, which makes them the biggest contender for EVs and renewable energy storage solutions.

The market size

The Indian lead-acid battery market is projected to reach $7.6 billion by 2023, primarily driven by booming demand for automobiles, with an increasing regulatory focus towards boosting the penetration of EVs in the country. Asia, particularly China and India, are the biggest markets of lead-acid batteries in the world.

Furthermore, growing application of energy storage applications in industrial sectors is expected to provide a significant growth opportunity for lead-acid batteries in the near future.

Deepak Ojha, Managing Director of Waldies Compound, manufacturer of red and white lead for storage batteries, said: “In so far as the market size in value is concerned, lithium-ion has already overtaken by a bare-minimum in 2018. However, in terms of energy storage, 75% of the market is still facilitated by lead-acid batteries. EV charging stations will require huge cooperation from lead-acid batteries to economize operations.”

The recent budget announcement was bent towards EVs, which, by default, demand economical and easily recyclable batteries, where lead-acid batteries emerge as the winner.

Cost, recyclability: major advantages

“Cost-optimized energy storage installations will use lead as preferred battery storage systems,” stated Francisco Trinidad, Exide Europe, at the International Lead Conference, Spain.

With developments in the packaging of batteries and their construction, durability and storage capacities of lead-acid batteries have improved considerably—presenting opportunities in emerging sectors such as renewable energy. Stationary lead-acid batteries are more efficient in storage of energy obtained from renewable sources like wind and solar, and are more suitable installations in offshore and onshore platforms to store, supply and direct electric power as per the requirement.

Lead-acid batteries are comparatively cheaper than other battery types such as Ni-MH and Li-ion. Moreover, these have the highest recyclability percentage of any product, and are therefore likely to find more takers owing to their reduced cost of production.

Focus areas

Andy Bush, managing director of International Lead Association, after the recently concluded International Lead Conference, added, “The industry must come together for a sustainable future of lead.”

“The problem is not the pollutant, but the irresponsible handling of it. Organizations like ours and Gravita are investing substantially to upgrade the current infrastructure for improvised material handling and recycling,” Deepak Ojha added.

Lead-acid batteries have been constantly derided for the amount of pollution they emit. There has been significant legislative pressure on the industry across the globe, especially in Europe.

However, major stakeholders of lead industry, lead-acid batteries, metal recyclers, smelters and other manufacturers of lead products are focusing on reducing pollution through R&D initiatives for sustainable technologies.