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California move on lead-acid risks ‘hindering’ energy policy

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 16:02 -- John Shepherd
California move on lead-acid risks ‘hindering’ energy policy

Regulators in California have been warned that new moves to increase pressure on producers of lead-acid batteries risk “hindering” state energy goals.

The warning came as the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) included lead batteries in its 2018-2020 draft priority product work plan.

Lead batteries are now among a variety of consumer products to be studied over the next three years— potentially leading to firms who sell the batteries in California being required to evaluate whether a “safer alternative” can be found.

A DTSC spokesperson told BBB: “No determination has yet been made about designating lead-acid batteries as a priority product. If DTSC does decide to propose them as a priority product, there are public workshops and public-comment periods for people to raise concerns or voice support.”

However, Battery Council International executive vice-president Kevin Moran (pictured) told BBB the DTSC will “merely be duplicating” rigorous evaluations of lead-acid already conducted in Europe— such as those of Germany’s independent and non-profit Oeko-Institut.

“It would simply waste valuable California resources to spend years repeating others’ work to reach the same conclusions,” Moran said.

“We don’t believe lead batteries meet the criteria to be listed as a priority product. In fact, to do so would present a hindrance to the state’s energy goals. California has a timeline to convert the state to zero emissions energy and our view is that battery power is the cornerstone of that future.”

Moran added: “Transitioning the state’s infrastructure to electric systems will rely heavily on batteries for storage of renewable energy and to help regulate variability and stabilise the grid. A mix of technologies, including lead batteries, will be required.”

“In addition, lead batteries have already been through a thorough alternatives analysis process to determine if a safer alternative exists,” Moran said. “In our comments to DTSC in December we pointed out that the European Commission noted that in its findings under the European End-of-Life Vehicles Directive that there is no current or foreseeable mass-market alternative for SLI batteries, and that ‘the use of lead is still unavoidable’.”

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