Lead-acid is a mainstream contender for funding to develop battery technology in the US, delegates to Battery Council International’s (BCI) annual convention have been told.
It was clear federal funding will take “an equal opportunities approach to other chemistries with much higher energy densities”, said BESTmag technical editor Dr Mike McDonagh, who attended the BCI event in New Orleans.
Keynote speaker Thomas Cubbage (pictured), deputy under secretary for science at the US Department of Energy, said funding for energy storage R&D was high and “technology agnostic”.
Cubbage said the federal government had approved more than US$5 billion of investments in battery innovation. The investment is via partnerships with US national laboratories rather than universities because of their commercial and multi-disciplined approach.
Cubbage also made clear that funding will tend to favour industries that can demonstrate a circular economy, ie, cradle-to-grave sustainability with an existing infrastructure. This again gives lead-acid an advantage over other battery technologies, Mc Donagh said.
Another keynote speaker, the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Curt Hebert, encouraged the Pb industry to get the message home to potential funders of the benefits of lead batteries from a regulator’s perspective.
Hebert made clear in his presentation— which warned “ignorance is the basis of prejudice” — that it is regulators who can determine the type of battery that will be used in large scale installations, such as in state or district-funded BESS projects, McDonagh said.
These regulators are looking at “price, safety, reliability— and now more than ever, sustainability through recycling”. It was clear most regulators will opt for safety over performance and, given a choice between lithium-ion and Pb, lead-acid should win if these factors are properly explained, Mc Donagh said.
A full report from BCI’s convention will be included in the upcoming summer edition of BESTmag. If you’re not already a subscriber, click here.