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Lead-Acid Batteries: A Century of Legacy and Enduring Advantages

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Lead-Acid Batteries: A Century of Legacy and Enduring Advantages

Lead-Acid Batteries: A Century of Legacy and Enduring Advantages

January 26, 2024

In 1859, the world witnessed the emergence of the first rechargeable battery. After over 160 years of development, the battery industry has risen to become one of the most crucial global sectors. Amidst the trends of electric transportation and clean energy transformation, batteries, particularly lithium-ion batteries, serve as the "heart" of vehicles and the carriers of energy, playing a pivotal role worldwide.


However, notably, the first rechargeable battery wasn't a lithium-ion one but a lead-acid battery. Despite lithium-ion batteries taking the spotlight in the last fifty-plus years, lead-acid batteries have shone brightly for over a century in the entire battery domain.


1. Advantages and Market Position of Lead-Acid Batteries


Lead-acid batteries are favored for their low cost, high safety, and excellent recyclability, maintaining a broad market space and a long market lifecycle. China, as the largest producer of lead-acid batteries, contributes to one-third of the world's total output. Despite the ongoing competition from emerging technologies like lithium-ion batteries, China's lead-acid battery industry continues to show stable growth, with a production of 21,650 million kilowatt-hours and a market size exceeding 170 billion yuan in 2022.


It's worth mentioning that China is also the largest exporter of lead-acid batteries. According to Chinese customs data, in 2022, China exported 216 million units of lead-acid batteries, a 9.09% increase from the previous year, with an export value of $3.903 billion, growing by 9.08%.


2. Market Prospects for Lead-Acid Batteries


Despite facing challenges from lithium-ion and sodium-ion technologies, lead-acid batteries, owing to their clear cost advantages, robust environmental adaptability, superior safety performance, and mature recycling technologies, are poised to maintain a long market lifecycle. In scenarios such as wide-temperature environments, high safety requirements, and well-established recycling practices, lead-acid batteries can showcase their unique strengths.


3. Applications of Lead-Acid Batteries in Various Sectors


Lead-acid batteries find extensive applications in areas such as automotive starting, electric vehicle propulsion, telecommunications, power systems, energy storage, and defense industries. While lithium-ion batteries surpassed lead-acid batteries in market size in 2017, driven by the rapid growth of China's new energy vehicles, lead-acid batteries have shown signs of resurgence in recent years.


4. Future Outlook and Enduring Significance


As we peer into the future, lead-acid batteries stand at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, poised to navigate the evolving energy landscape. While the relentless march of lithium-ion and emerging technologies presents challenges, the unique attributes of lead-acid batteries ensure they remain indispensable.


Automotive starting batteries, electric two-wheelers, and energy storage will continue to be the primary arenas where lead-acid batteries shine. Their enduring cost-effectiveness, exceptional environmental adaptability, and well-established recycling processes affirm their pivotal role in these domains.


In essence, lead-acid batteries, as stalwarts in the battery realm, not only carry a century of legacy but also project a sustained influence in shaping the future of energy storage. Their journey is far from over; it's a testament to resilience, adaptability, and the timeless relevance of a technology that has stood the test of time.

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