The lead battery industry must redouble its efforts to show investors and utility operators that lead batteries are a perfectly usable and cost effective means of providing grid-scale energy storage, a seminar in London heard last month.
This was the conclusion of lead battery industry leaders, following presentations made at the seminar, held at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. It follows hard on the heels of a review paper published in the Journal of Energy storage, authored by Boris Monahov and Alistair Davidson of the International Lead Association and Geoffrey May (pictured) of Focus consulting.
In it, the case is made that that modern lead batteries are more sustainable than any other battery technology with a greater than 99% recycling rate. In addition, lead batteries developed of the past 20 years have a more than adequate cycling performance to be used in frequency and load shifting applications – the most common reasons to adopt energy storage in grid-scale operation.
Lead batteries match and better rival technologies in lifetime and operational costs but more importantly, lead battery systems are safer than the most commonly adopted technology – lithium-ion – because it is not subject to the same inherent safety issues which beset this chemistry, which has caused numerous fires and explosions in application as diverse and cellular phones to back up systems in commercial aircraft.
“These are five essential reasons for utility operators to evaluate and specify lead batteries in new energy storage systems they commission,” said May.
But the evidence is utilities have not heard this message. Farid Ahmed of Wood Mackenzie, the metal and materials research consultancy, said that last year less than 2% of grid-scale energy storage projects commissioned and operating last year used lead batteries.
A UK electricity network specialist said he had been unaware of the progress made in lead battery technology but would review his company’s position.