July 2, 2020: MEPs on June 29 called on the European Commission to amend regulatory burdens on energy storage technologies in the drive towards a clean energy transition – emphasizing that all battery technologies should be given equal consideration, and even emulate lead batteries in recycling.
At a meeting of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, Austrian MEP Claudia Gamon presented a report which calls on the Commission to, among other things:
• Reduce the regulatory burden for market entries
• Continue to provide support for research
• Abolish certain network charges which it says are sometimes levied twice
• Shorten approval procedures — essentially, cut red tape.
Several times the report, which is an amendment to the EU’s ‘Comprehensive European Approach to Energy Storage’, makes it clear that all battery technologies should be given continuous support; and lead-acid batteries are highlighted as a model to be followed in battery recycling.
“The European Parliament acknowledges that well functioning collection and recycling schemes as well as closed-loop processes, in line with the circular economy principles, are already in place for a range of battery technologies, especially in EU-based automotive and industrial battery chains, eg lead-based starter batteries, and believes that those schemes could be considered as a blueprint for battery recycling,” the report says.
“The Parliament is convinced that a range of battery technologies, including those with already well established value chains in the EU, will play an important role in ensuring a stable and flexible electricity supply,” it says, calling for an expansion of the European Battery Alliance and Strategic Action Plan on Batteries “to cover all available battery technologies.”
The report is part of the European Parliament’s push towards zero-carbon emissions, and it sees energy storage as an essential element of an energy efficient, renewables-based economy. It say it needs to take “into account all available technologies as well as close-to market technologies, keeping a technology neutral approach to ensure a level playing field”, while expressing regrets that “infrastructure or larger storage projects which are crucial to the energy transition often face strong resistance and delays at local level”.
The report also raises concerns about the EU’s lithium battery manufacturing capacity and its reliance “on production sourced outside Europe with limited transparency”.
The lead-acid battery industry has faced challenges in recent years from the EC, for example with proposals to add four lead compounds indispensable in making lead batteries to its REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) prioritization list, effectively banning their use.
The ILA and EUROBAT in February 2019 persuaded regulators to drop the proposals, which they have done — but this is only until the next review.
Despite fears that lead metal itself could be added to the prioritization list, the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) has not added it this year, but that could still happen in 2021.
“The MEP report makes a welcome change in effectively supporting the industry for once,” said one industry commentator.
Gert Meylemans, director of communications for EUROBAT, said the organization has always emphasized to MEPs the importance of all technologies playing a role in the decarbonization process.
“EUROBAT advocates that all four ‘families’ of battery technologies — lithium, lead, nickel and sodium — can provide distinct and important functions for grid operators and have the potential for significant technological economic improvements,” he said.
“We are pleased to see that the reference to ‘a range of battery technologies’ has been included in the report.”
Alistair Davidson, director of the Consortium for Battery Innovation, said: “This is an important report by European parliamentarians. They have rightly highlighted that battery energy storage is a priority for a low carbon future and to help boost a green recovery.
“The key point is they recognize that all battery technologies have a role to play and advanced lead batteries — made in Europe, and recycled in Europe — often offer the best solution for a range of storage applications.”
The report was adopted by 53 votes to three and 15 abstentions. The next step will be when it is put to a vote at the plenary session next week: July 8-10.