Demand for lead-acid batteries increasing significantly

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By EB Bureau

Monday, December 30, 2013: According to Sunil Bhatnagar, director, marketing, Artheon Electronics, a huge demand for batteries is coming from sectors like electric vehicles, telecom and solar power. “In the electric vehicle segment, while the demand is growing for four-wheelers, the two-wheeler segment has slowed down due to the withdrawal of incentives from the government, though the requirements for battery replacements in old electric vehicles is still good,” he says.

“Indian manufacturers are getting ready for higher demand for batteries. The demand would increase at a very fast pace as China is now not very competitive in battery pricing. The strengthening of the dollar has made things worse for Indian battery importers, hence giving the battery manufacturers more opportunities to grow,” he adds.

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Demand from the solar segment is getting stronger, as very high targets have been set under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The growing demand for solar lanterns (CFL and LED-based) is driving the demand for batteries in this segment. “The solar segment largely uses tubular batteries, except for solar-based LED and CFL lighting systems that use small VRLA batteries like 6V, 4.5Ah and 12V, 7Ah. Indian manufacturers are addressing these markets adequately,” says Biju Bruno, managing director, Greenvision Technologies.

The telecom segment has come out of a period of sluggish growth after two-three years and is expected to see good demand this year. Demand for batteries will also shoot up as Central and state governments are coming up with new regulations, which mandate that 10 per cent of the power used by telecom tower companies must be generated through renewable energy sources. This holds true for even hospitals, hotels, etc. This would lead to a major increase in battery demand, as all this generated power would have to be stored in batteries.

The need for uninterrupted power in various industries such as telecom, banking and hospitality has resulted in the strong growth for industrial batteries. Says Biju Bruno, “With the rising need for power back-up, the UPS segment is driving the huge demand for batteries. This segment has given rise to demand for valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) and tubular batteries.

The replacement market for batteries, which is mostly served by smaller companies, is also growing considerably. Demand for such batteries comes mostly from semi-urban and rural areas.

Says Madan Kotnala, COO, Su-Kam Power Systems Ltd, “The demand for lead acid batteries has grown so much that manufacturers in India have not been able to meet the demand. Hence, a large number of batteries are still being imported from China to fill this gap. With the opening up of new avenues like solar and e-bikes, the demand will further increase. There are immense opportunities in the automotive segment as the number of vehicles per person is still very low in comparison to other developing countries. Substantial demand for batteries will come from solar off-grid projects as well.”

“The high efficiency with which lead-acid batteries can be recycled has resulted in several recyclers entering the battery business. Since it is easier to make a recycled lead-acid battery than manufacturing a new one, most players find it more convenient to enter the battery recycling business,” says Rajesh Gupta, director, Okaya Power Ltd.

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