Another threat to lead as EU planners mull new legislation

Another threat to lead as EU planners mull new legislation

Another threat to lead as EU planners mull new legislation 652 240 Batteries International

17 January 2019: EUROBAT has raised concerns about a preparatory study that could form the basis of new EC legislation on batteries, and was discussed at a stakeholder meeting in December. Although the legislation will affect lithium battery manufacturers, it has potential ramifications for the lead battery industry.

The meeting, which included a range of stakeholders including representatives of the European Commission, energy authorities, Tesla, Exide Technologies, Saft and others, was the first held to discuss the development of eco-design regulations on batteries, which mainly include lithium batteries because of the growing EV market.

Because European lithium battery manufacturers cannot compete with Asian ones on price, they will have to compete on being ‘green’, Francesco Gattiglio, EU affairs manager for EUROBAT, told BESB.

To do that they will have to meet certain criteria, and one of EUROBAT’s concerns is that these criteria could be set horizontally across all batteries, regardless of application or chemistry, he said.

While automotive batteries will not come under the scope of any new legislation, industrial batteries will — and these could include lead-based batteries.

“We fear that legislation applicable indiscriminately to all industrial batteries will have detrimental effects on the European battery industry,” said EUROBAT in a follow-up response to the stakeholder meeting.

“Today, industrial batteries as defined in the Battery Directive include extremely different applications, from xEVs, traction batteries, to energy storage (residential and grid level), UPS systems, telecom towers and industrial vehicles. Energy density, for example, is only relevant in those segments where weight is an issue.”

EUROBAT said requirements were different among industrial batteries depending on each application, therefore one single eco-design regulation could not be suitable for all sectors: “Besides, each battery technology currently available on the market (lead, lithium, sodium and nickel) is best suited to serve specific market segments, thanks to their different features.

“For this reason, we call the Commission to respect the diversity of applications and requirements in this sector, avoiding legislative proposals that would damage the European battery industry in specific market segments.”

Gattiligio told BESB that the scope of the legislation had yet to be defined. “Once that is defined you have to clarify at what level you are setting the bar,” he said.

“If you set that too high for some technologies, you are putting them out of the market. I don’t think that’s what the Commission wants to do but I’m more afraid it might do it by accident and by not studying the reality of the market enough. We want to avoid this risk.”

Another issue is the timeline of the study and follow-up legislation.

“The first draft of the preparatory study was published at the beginning of December — 250 pages in just one of the various tasks — and we had just three weeks to make a comment,” said Gattiglio.

“The problem with Eco-design is that everything is in the mist. We don’t have clear understanding of where the Commission wants to go and we aren’t even sure if the Commission can do what it wants to do from a legal point of view.”

Stakeholders are commenting on the study, which will form the basis for any EC legislation in the second half of 2019.