The European Union Battery Commission hosted a summit in Brussels, Belgium, that shed some light on the use of lead-acid batteries used in virtually all electric vehicles in Europe.
The EU Battery Commission is a world leader in lead battery innovation, manufacturing, and recycling, employing over 25,000 people. According to the Battery Council International, the summit addressed the transition to zero-emissions vehicles, and the continued use of lead-acid batteries for the near future. The EU pointed out that sixty percent of all vehicles sold in Europe in 2016 incorporated stop-start, lead battery technology. It also acknowledged that lead batteries are also present in micro-hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles and that virtually every vehicle on the road in Europe today relies on a lead battery. The summit concluded that the demand for lead-acid batteries will continue into the foreseeable future for transportation and critical industrial applications.
The International Lead Association (ILA) agreed that there is an urgent need for a clear European framework that supports innovation in battery technology and strongly supports that the framework must recognize and support the future potential for all battery types, including lead and lithium batteries. The summit concluded on the following steps to ensure the goals of clean energy with meeting increasing demands for lead batteries.
It suggested that the Commission remain technology neutral to support all battery chemistries, as well as meeting the demands of a growing electric vehicle market, in which all of the vehicles on the road utilize lead-acid batteries. The Commission also recognized that lead batteries play a vital, cost-effective and proven role in the reduction of CO2 emissions in all types of vehicles, including start-stop and micro-hybrids.
When it came to environmental issues, the Commission was quick to point out that there is presently no commercially available process to economically recycle lithium batteries, and that lead-acid batteries are the most recycled consumer product on the planet. From a sustainability standpoint, the Commission also stated that 80 percent of a new lead battery is comprised of recycled materials. This is a stark contrast to many of the newer battery technologies that rely heavily on substances that are considered critical raw materials.