The global stationary lead acid (SLA) battery market is poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8 percent from 2011 to 2017. SLAs have been used for well over a century as a backup/standby power solution in support of various critical applications. Over time, SLA batteries have established a solid reputation as a reliable and rugged solution.
The environmentally friendly nature and widespread product availability strengthens the position of SLA batteries as the solution of choice for many industrial-based end-users. Extensive distribution and service networks are contributing to a strong uptake of the technology. Additionally, mergers and acquisitions have increased brand awareness as well as network distribution capabilities and expanded presence.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s Global Stationary Lead Acid (SLA) Battery Market research finds that the market earned revenues of $4.18 billion in 2010 and estimates this to reach $6.62 billion in 2017.
“As society turns progressively more mobile, the need for reliable power sources intensifies,” said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Wesley Dean. “The networks supporting this mobility are becoming increasingly microprocessor-based and are sensitive, requiring high-quality power sources.”
In terms of cost effectiveness, SLAs have established a clear lead ahead of competing energy storage solutions. Cost efficiency is measured by initial investment and maintenance costs, as well as performance reliability and widespread availability for addressing time-sensitive replacement situations.
Although alternative battery chemistries, such as lithium ion polymer, nickel-cadmium (NiCd) and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) are gaining steady traction in the market, there is no threat of an industry transition to these energy storage solutions any time soon.
Limited product differentiation is rampant throughout this mature market. The failure to discern product quality allows less capable units to force prices down and presents an illusion that units are identical and devoid of performance variance.
A major challenge within the SLA battery market is the extreme volatility of lead prices. From 2009 to 2010, the industry witnessed an increase of nearly 45 percent. Constant pricing adjustments to compensate for such drastic fluctuations are highly impractical. As a result, vendors absorb the cost difference initially until it is eventually passed on to the consumer.
“SLA battery manufacturers have no control over the cost of lead as a means of lowering production costs,” said Dean. “However, mergers and acquisitions, as well as strategic partnerships, serve well in leveraging production and distribution capabilities, helping to achieve economies of scale to offset the impact of the highly unpredictable costs of manufacturing components.”
Furthermore, factors such as global competition among SLA battery manufacturers, production overcapacity in some areas and overall mature market conditions have contributed to decreased profit margins.
To ensure successful business outcomes, participants in this space must identify and focus on the high-potential segments. The fastest-growing application segments for SLA batteries are telecommunications and UPS/data communication. These segments will continue to represent the highest growth opportunities as the services and user-base supported by these networks continue to expand at a feverish pace.