Lead is a soft and malleable metal belonging to the carbon group. It is the heaviest non-radioactive element which occurs naturally on earth in the form of four isotopes: lead-208, 207, 206, and 204. It is generally found in ores with copper, silver and zinc and is extracted together with these metals. Lead compounds exist in two main oxidation states: +4 and +2. It is widely used in construction activities, production of weights, lead-acid batteries, and as a radiation shield. Conventional lead-acid batteries have a significant history in providing energy storage for a wide range of end-use applications, in mobile as well as stationary applications.
The global market for lead has been witnessing noticeable growth on account of growing lead-acid battery consumption. In addition, the global demand is estimated to be significant in the coming years as capacity expansions and new operations boost supply at a faster rate than demand.
According to government sources of various developed and developing economies, their nationwide demand for energy is expected to be doubled within the next decade. Owing to this, various countries such as China and India have started making huge investments in smart grid technology in order to meet the huge demand for power. Potential investments in smart grid technology has further lead to the growth of lead-acid batteries which are used in electrical vehicles (EV) which serve as one of the major component in the smart grid technology.
Lead-acid battery exports and production have strongly recovered in China after the wide-ranging environmentally motivated cutbacks in 2011. In addition, increasing adoption of advanced vehicle technologies such as stop-start & hybrid vehicles and renewable energy generation is contributing towards the innovation in lead-based battery segment. Lead-acid batteries based on modern technologies have also been gaining significant importance in applications where batteries are considered extremely vital for their mechanism, as well as in new applications such as grid storage for renewable energy generation.
Growth of the building construction industry is anticipated to be one of the major factors driving the demand for lead over the next few years. Lead is widely used in the construction industry as architectural metals for roofing materials, gutters and gutter joints, and on roof parapets. Moreover, increasing demand for lead-acid batteries for automotive application on account of rising automobile industry. is expected to contribute to the growth of the market. However, growing health concerns regarding the use of lead paints is expected to slow down the growth of the market. North America was the largest consumer for lead owing to its vast construction and automobile industry. The demand in Europe is expected to rise moderately on account of declining automobile sales.
However, future market growth is expected to be from Asia Pacific on account of rising demand for energy in smart grid technology which includes electrical vehicles operated on lead batteries. This factor is further expected to provide new opportunities for the growth of the market. Development of absorbed glass mat (AGM) lead acid batteries on account of their favorable characteristic of being maintenance-free are also expected to provide growth opportunities for the lead market.
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