June 23, 2023: Expanding innovation in lead battery technology is key to the industry having a bright future for years to come, Sunlight Group CEO Lampros Bisalas told Pb2023 in Athens yesterday.
He said Sunlight’s commitment to innovation included employing some 160 full-time researchers (60 for lead and 100 for lithium).
Bisalas told delegates at the ILA’s conference that “lead acid technology is in my blood” — and he outlined his company’s recent global investments including plans to gradually double lead production at the firm’s Komotini plant in Greece from the current 50,000 tonnes annually.
He also urged fellow industry leaders to focus on sustainability to protect the lead battery supply chain from regulatory threats.
“We must all understand the biggest concern for lead is the regulators — they believe it’s something dangerous for public health, so we need to increase our sourcing responsibility and guard against uncontrolled disposal.”
Addressing environmental concerns and maximizing the production and use of secondary lead would sustain the industry while making regulators “more relaxed” about lead batteries, he said.
He also warned of increasing attention to manufacturers’ ESG credentials. Bisalas believes that companies risk being excluded from supply chains in the near future unless they can demonstrate a clear commitment to sustainability.
Meanwhile, there is a need for faster scaling up of manufacturing and an acceleration of innovation for lead in a variety of applications as the industry seeks out promising new market segments.
“Despite the recession, we see the market growing for lead, but it will be the customers who decide what technology best fits their needs,” said Bisalas, whose company is also expanding into the lithium manufacturing market.
“We are technology agnostic in that sense and focusing on LFP chemistry for energy storage systems because that is what our customers are telling us they want in that sector.”
Sunlight is already developing a €100m lithium battery assembly plant and is investing in its new ‘ReLiFe’ unit which will focus on innovations in lithium recycling.