low carbon future, advanced lead batteries
© Martin Muránsky

Dr Alistair Davidson, Director at Consortium for Battery Innovation says that battery energy storage holds the key to a clean energy future

However, the growth in demand for batteries and the many different applications will require a range of battery technologies capable of delivering at scale

At the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI), we very much believe in delivering cutting-edge research to help take lead batteries to a new level of performance. It’s important to promote innovation in the field for this proven battery technology for a range of applications, including energy storage and automotive.

We very much believe in the common aim of inspiring the latest research to help develop the next generation of advanced lead batteries. When the world’s leading battery manufacturers and research specialists come together, the standard is set for advanced lead batteries and the next generation of energy storage.

An interactive map was recently launched which demonstrates how new applications for lead batteries are supporting renewable energy projects across the globe. It features examples of microgrids supporting isolated communities to peak shaving which enables a short-term reduction in electricity consumption followed by an increase in production at a later time when power prices or grid demand is lower.

Lead batteries are essential today for powering start-stop vehicles which themselves have ushered in reductions in carbon emissions and are also used in hybrid and industrial vehicles – virtually all cars on the road contain a lead battery. Lead batteries provide over 70% of the world’s rechargeable energy storage.

As a proven technology, lead batteries have a long track record of reliability and performance and tend to be lower cost. Resource management and sustainability are key for fast electrification and hybridisation of the economy and the very high recyclability (99% at end-of-life in Europe and North America) of lead batteries enables these huge growth predictions in energy storage.

As countries continue rapidly moving to a low carbon future, demand for battery energy storage is set to significantly increase. A range of technologies will be required to meet this demand and while lithium batteries will be a key player, the only other technology with the scale and capability to meet this vast unmet need in energy storage is the lead battery.

At the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI), we are always looking for new concepts and ideas in support of advancing battery capabilities and their applications. The Consortium recently announced a project in the United States to roll-out lead battery technology to support electric vehicle fast-charging stations.

Supporting green growth through recyclability and sustainability, lead batteries also provide key economic benefits to societies, with retired energy storage batteries possessing a scrap value as opposed to a disposal cost.

Looking ahead to the future, CBI has identified two priority research goals to really push advancements in lead battery technology for automotive and energy storage applications. A target increase of dynamic charge acceptance – the ability of a battery to accept instantaneous energy when charging – by five times by the year 2022 to 2 Amps/Ah has been set for automotive applications.

For energy storage, it is essential to increase battery cycle life – the number of complete charge and discharge during its lifetime – by five times by 2022 to 5,000 cycles. These will ensure that lead batteries remain at the forefront of the market for both applications.
To help achieve these goals, new technical research projects for 2019 onwards have been established, the details of which will be unveiled later this year but will include partnerships with universities, research institutes and battery manufacturing member companies.
In the last fifteen years, we have seen a dramatic improvement in lead battery performance.

This is due to a range of things such as additives and new electrode architectures. However future applications, whether automotive or energy storage will place ever-increasing demands on the functionality of the battery. It’s essential that lead batteries can adapt and improve through research and innovation to meet these requirements.

We expect to see steady growth in the automotive market for lead batteries in the next five years, whilst the energy storage system market is projected to expand dramatically. Energy storage across the globe is becoming ever more vital – not only for economies but also for societal needs such as renewable energy, electrification, circular economy and sustainability. Delivering research is, therefore, vital to drive lead battery innovation necessary to meet future energy storage needs.

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