Lead and lithium-ion batteries will be 'mainstream technologies' powering the future

by John Shepherd
Inset: Avicenne's Christophe Pillot (top) and Eurobat president Marc Zoellner.
Lead-based and lithium-ion batteries will be the "two mainstream technologies” serving different applications by 2030, European industry leaders and policymakers have been told.

"Lead and lithium will be the two most important technologies and chemistries – with nickel metal hydride, cadmium, sodium or zinc-air batteries still there for niche markets,” Avicenne Energy partner and director, Christophe Pillot, told a webinar hosted by the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers (Eurobat).

Eurobat president Marc Zoellner, who is also CEO of Germany-based battery manufacturer Hoppecke, said: "All battery technologies will continue to be essential to the EU’s effort to build a climate neutral economy by 2050.”

'Increased market growth'

Pillot told the webinar – ‘Sustainable batteries: a new regulatory framework and market outlook’ – global demand in 2020 for lead-based batteries was around 410 GWh and 230 GWh for lithium-ion.

He said the combined market was expected to grow to a "conservative estimate” of 1.4 terawatt hours by 2030 and, in terms of value, "will increase from roughly $90bn (£64.7bn) in 2020 to more than $150bn in 2030”.

Pillot said the European lead-based battery industry would "retain a strong position and see projected growth, but ongoing investment in R&D; and production advancement is needed”.

'Lead-based tech still needed'

"We will still need lead battery technology for a variety of applications, including SLI batteries and also for the e-bikes market, power backup, telecommunications, uninterruptible power supplies and other applications.”

According to Pillot, European demand for lead batteries was around 70 GWh in 2020 and "will reach roughly 80 GWh in 2030”. Production of lead batteries in Europe, which was roughly 90 GWh in 2020, will be enough to satisfy increased European demand.

He stressed that lead-based batteries would also be needed to underpin an expected surge in demand for electric vehicles (EVs). "Conventional vehicles, micro hybrid, mild hybrid, full hybrid, plug-in hybrid EVs will all need a 12-volt auxiliary battery – and they will mostly be lead.”

'EVs drive lithium demand'

On lithium-ion, Pillot said the production market will start to see a move away from Asian dominance, as OEMs and auto firms push for more battery suppliers to be located near their production sites.

"The lithium-ion market will for sure be driven by EVs,” he said. "In one scenario, we estimate a conservative market penetration of about 15% in 2030 and a more realistic / optimistic scenario of about 30% in 2030. In the second scenario, the market value will reach $45bn in 2030 with demand in Europe predicted to be around 400 GWh.

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