Table of Contents
Technological Evaluation and Assessment of the Threat ALA Batteries Pose to Lithium Ion Batteries
Lead acid (LA) chemistry is one of the oldest, and commercially most well-established, battery technologies. In the past 15–20 years, LA batteries have faced increasing competition from “advanced” battery technologies, perhaps most importantly from lithium ion. In response, the LA battery industry has invested significant R&D resources to improve the technology’s performance and make it more competitive. This study assesses some of the main developments in ALA battery technologies and considers the threat ALA batteries pose to lithium ion batteries. The base year is 2013 and the forecast period ends in 2030.
-The lead acid (LA) battery industry has invested significant resources to improve performance and make the technology more competitive versus “advanced” battery technologies.
-LA technology is the incumbent for uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and backup power. ALA batteries reinforce their position by addressing some of LA's performance issues, whilst preserving one the technology's main advantages—low cost.
-Renewable energy (RE) applications, considered a growth market by the industry, may be more challenging for ALA partly because of perceptions that the technology is outmoded. Nevertheless, improvements in cycle life, partial state of charge (PSOC) performance (especially for lead carbon (LC) batteries), and low cost make them a competitive alternative to lithium ion systems.
-ALA batteries are not suitable for electric vehicles (EVs) other than micro and mild hybrids. They do pose an indirect threat to lithium ion EV batteries to the extent that the success of micro and mild hybrid EVs dampens demand for/delays in market penetration of full hybrid EVs (HEVs), plug-in hybrid HEVs (PHEVs), and battery EVs (BEVs).
Context of Study
LA chemistry is one of the oldest, and most commercially established, battery technologies. It has enjoyed particular success in the automotive sector, where it remains the only option for starting, lighting, and ignition (SLI) applications. The energy storage (ES) sector has a long history, and it is the incumbent technology in backup power applications, e.g., in the telecommunications industry.
The low cost of LA batteries, excellent recyclability, and the associated consumer confidence that comes with being such a mature technology are significant competitive strengths. These batteries have, however, suffered from some well-known disadvantages, most notably low specific energy and a relatively short cycle life. In the past to years, LA batteries have faced increasing competition from “advanced” battery technologies such as nickel metal hydride, sodium-sulfur systems, and, perhaps most importantly, lithium ion. The development of these systems has primarily been driven by huge growth of interest in EVs and batteries for grid ES (including wind/solar power) as a result of concerns about high oil prices, desire for energy independence, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions linked with global warming. These newer battery technologies have offered better performance than LA on one or both of the key disadvantages, although historically at a significantly higher price point.
In response, the LA battery industry has invested significant R&D resources to both improve performance and make the technology more competitive. Although specific energy remains low, contrary to some expectations that LA batteries would become redundant, the developments that have been made mean LA batteries cannot be overlooked in the new market environment. This study assesses some of the main new developments and considers the threat LA batteries pose to lithium ion batteries.
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