April 23, 2021: The BCI ‘State of the Industry’ video conference on April 22 didn’t disappoint. The three-hour session gave a clear account of the lobbying and advocacy work of the council over the past year and two presentations offered positive projections about what to expect for the stationary and automotive battery markets in the next three years.
Once the announcement of the new BCI president was announced (see separate story) the conference — effectively a prelude to the physical event to be held in San Diego, California in September — started with a review of the council’s activities over the past year and the changing landscape that lay ahead. This was given by Roger Miksad, executive vice president of BCI.
Miksad effectively broke down the critical areas for BCI in the year ahead into four categories — the changes to presidential policy being perhaps the most influential, then state and federal OSHA (occupational safety and health administration) developments, then environmental regulations for California, and then at a federal level.
Put briefly, the incoming president, Joe Biden, has changed the landscape substantially for batteries in the US from the inertia that characterized much of the Trump administration. Clean energy and climate change will be a major theme with the implementation of carbon reduction policies and a greater commitment by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) of enforcement.
As part of this changing landscape will be a huge influx of money — the American Jobs Plan Infrastructure bill will provide a $2 trillion injection of funds into the economy and Miksad said that some $100 billion looked as if it would be earmarked for batteries. While conceding that much of this would go to EV development, he reckoned it would present major opportunities for all battery chemistries.
Miksad also detailed the work of the BCI’s regulatory, advocacy and communications committees — the EHS Steering Group, the Energy Storage Systems Initiative and the Advanced Lead Batteries Communication Initiative — and what their duties would continue to be.
Overall Miksad highlighted (see chart at top of page) the danger areas in the year ahead. He said BCI should also be proud of its advocacy work with the DTSC (Department of Toxic Substances Control), which has removed lead batteries from any immediate ban via California’s Green Chemistry Program.
“This demonstrates the importance of five years of work by the BCI,” he said. Official confirmation of this is due early this summer.
The next presentation, given by Nick Starita, president for energy solutions at Hollingworth & Vose, contained a review of BCI members’ projections for sales. He started by showing that the lead battery industry had been an essential industry during the Covid-19 pandemic. He said motive power had been slowed by the pandemic but trends in e-commerce were resilient. He forecast compound annual growth of 5.1% over the next three years.
In the stationary sector the impact of the pandemic had been minimal and CAGR would average 3.1% in the coming three years.
The final presentation given by industry veteran Ray Kubis was a finely argued construction of the factors working on the development of the transport battery sector, concluding that though SLI and stop/start markets would lose market share to lithium there would be steady growth for lead batteries.
(A full review of the briefing will be given in the upcoming BCI Yearbook coming out in virtual form this May. This will be updated as a printed magazine timed to coincide with the BCI convention to be held in San Diego in September and delivered to delegates at the event.)