As the EU marks the first anniversary of the EU Battery Alliance, one of the leading U.S. government national laboratories has announced a ground-breaking research project on future-generation lead batteries.
It’s ironic that while the EU focuses much of its efforts on just one technology in the race to secure competitive advantage, the U.S. is helping explore a wider range of battery solutions to meet global demand for reliable energy storage – which is critical to helping reduce the impact of climate change.
But it’s worse than that. At the same time as the EU promotes its batteries action plan, European regulators seem to be focused on trying to restrict the use of lead battery technology by outlawing lead compounds vital to their manufacture – substances which are only used, in controlled conditions, in the manufacturing process.
We urgently need to see some joined-up thinking in Brussels so that the battery type that already successfully provides two thirds of the world’s rechargeable energy storage capacity is given the same political support as other technologies.
The U.S. project at Argonne National Laboratory will help develop the next generation of high performance advanced lead batteries. It is time for the EU to work with industry and innovate and develop this reliable, safe and cost-effective energy storage solution in support of Europe’s decarbonisation and electrification aims.
Europe has a well-established lead battery manufacturing eco-system – employing more than 20,000 people across 15-member states. What’s more, lead batteries are a perfect example of the circular economy in action – with 99 per cent collected and recycled at their end of life. This is a European success story which should not only be celebrated, it should be supported by every part of the EU as we seek to decarbonise and boost electrification.