As we enter a new year it will without doubt be a significant period of new challenges and opportunities – and change – but some of the themes that have dominated the last twelve months will remain important drivers for our industry.
In Europe, with elections to the European parliament, we will see the start of a new political era and potentially a review of EU priorities, building on the carbon neutral ambitions set out in the bloc’s mid-century strategy. It promises to be an interesting period for anyone involved in energy storage and a transformation where Europe is clearly looking to build its influence globally. Which is why, working with our European partners and members, we will be investing more in our advocacy and communications efforts this year, working with newly-elected MEPs and with officials, to ensure there is a clear understanding about the benefits of lead battery technology in support of Europe’s energy transformation.
Whatever happens politically in Europe and elsewhere, there is little doubt that radical changes in the global economy and society will continue to reflect the challenges presented by climate change that were discussed at the major international conference, COP24, which took place in Poland in December. How the lead and lead battery industries respond to these challenges and the opportunities presented by climate policies and electrification will, I think, define and determine our long-term prospects as an industry.
Last year, our work on lead battery research and innovation received a significant boost with the announcement of a cutting-edge research programme with the US Government’s Argonne National Laboratory. And in the year ahead we can look forward to more initiatives as the ongoing need to innovate and develop new products will see the re-launch of our battery research consortium. The consortium is growing and the global nature of its membership and the focus on innovation means its work and its influence could not be more important at this time for the lead battery industry. So, look out for the Consortium for Battery Innovation, as we prepare to publish ground-breaking new material and launch new projects during the year.
I have no doubt that the ongoing growth in demand for rechargeable battery energy storage will continue apace. That is something which analysts from the US, and Europe, to Asia have confirmed. It is why we must continue to bring to market advanced lead battery technology to help meet that requirement. And it opens up new market opportunities for the longest-serving and most reliable rechargeable battery technology available.
The other theme I think will be high on the agenda of our industry this year is what’s variously termed material or resource stewardship. This is about the way we manage the resources we use – the metal and all of the other materials involved in our value chains. And it is also about ensuring we source our materials ethically and sustainably. I know this is something many of our members and partners are passionate about and have been working hard on behind the scenes for some time. At ILA for example we have partnered with the United Nation’s environment programme for many years to encourage the safe and responsible handling of recycled lead batteries. Our own staff help train and support companies looking to operate using internationally recognised environmental health and safety procedures in continents from India to Africa, and South America. This important work will continue.
Finally, we will be hosting the lead industry’s global conference in Madrid between June 18-20. It will be part of a whole week of lead industry and lead battery events and activities – so please do look out for more information on what will be a tremendous event in Spain.
I wish you all a successful and prosperous 2019.