Our executives gathered with other industry experts to discuss lead battery trends and the future of energy storage at the annual Battery Council International (BCI) convention last month.
Here are a few highlights from our presentations:
A renewable future in store(age)
Today, more than 20% of the electricity generation in the U.S. comes from renewables, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that will increase to 44% by 2050. But with the renewable boom comes a challenge: how can we quickly and reliably scale up renewable storage to ensure we’re not losing excess energy?
Scott Childers, Vice President of Essential Power, introduced BCI’s Flow Battery Industry Group, providing members with an update on the state of long-duration energy storage (LDES) growth, as well as how battery manufacturers are preparing for the increase in renewables that will require energy storage.
While a variety of battery chemistries will be required to meet demand, flow batteries are uniquely positioned to pair with the renewable market where energy needs to be deployed for more than four hours of duration.
Choosing your species
The debate around energy storage doesn’t stop at whether solid-based, such as lead or lithium-ion batteries, or liquid-based flow batteries are the better option. Those manufacturers developing flow batteries must also decide what “active species” to deploy in the electrolyte.
Brian Berland, Senior Director of VRFB Products, joined representatives from other flow battery companies for a panel discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of different active species.
His key point is that while flow battery users can choose between metal species such as vanadium, iron or zinc, or a carbon-based molecule, vanadium is still the most promising option. Vanadium redox flow batteries offer a near unlimited lifecycle with proper maintenance, providing stable storage capacity for 20-30 years, and the electrolyte is almost infinitely reusable and recyclable.
An industry recharged
Two of our executives also had the opportunity to discuss how the battery manufacturing industry has grown and changed in the last few years.
Melissa Floyd, Vice President, Communications and Digital Marketing, participated in a discussion on the impact of BCI’s communication strategy on the lead battery industry. Over the past seven years, BCI and member companies have reinforced the message around the circular economy of lead batteries. This sustainable, vertically integrated domestic supply chain manufactures 90 percent of all lead batteries used in the U.S. and is a blueprint for success other battery chemistries should follow.
BCI’s communications campaigns have helped ensure that the language about battery chemistries is neutral within recent legislation, opening the door for investments in lead batteries and other technologies like flow batteries, which is critical to ensuring energy resiliency for the U.S.
Mike Judd, Chief Executive Officer and President, joined a panel discussion on different industry perspectives. He believes there is a great deal of opportunity for the lead battery industry. A supply chain strength of lead batteries is that lead is infinitely recyclable and can be continuously reused without losing future performance capacity. The value of the lead in a spent battery is the incentive for ensuring it is recycled and returned to the supply chain to build new lead batteries.
As demand for energy storage grows and conversations shift to what manufacturers can deliver right now, lead batteries have an advantage. However, the industry must keep pressing forward to drive innovations that will get more out of the active material to increase cycle life, improve discharge rates for lead batteries.
If you’re attending a show soon, we’d love to see you there! Keep an eye on our upcoming events page to see where we’re presenting soon.