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China: Battery suppliers pursue material production

The industry is aiming for self-sufficiency to take advantage of an expanding user base.

Suppliers of lithium batteries in China are bolstering material manufacture buoyed by the line’s expanding user base. Under the government’s 12th Five-Year Plan, companies are urged to advance production of manganese, silicate and vanadium and fluoride series, nickel-based oxide, high-voltage polyanion and anode inputs. Makers are likewise starting mass manufacture of battery separators, with more than 30 enterprises expected to do so in coming years. At present, the country acquires more than 50 percent of the requirement overseas.

Material demand is forecast to grow in the years ahead as China accelerates the production of new energy vehicles. The country targets to roll out more than 500,000 “green” cars by 2015. CCID Consulting estimates the line will require 100 million sqm of battery separators, 10,000 tons of anode and 4,000 tons of carbon-based cathode materials every year. Orders for LiPF6 electrolyte will hit 1,000 tons annually.

Lithium batteries are also finding widening adoption in electric bicycles, with market share projected to climb by 20 percent in 2015. In 2010, only 0.32 percent of the 130 million e-bikes produced in China adopted the chemistry. The variant’s slimmer dimensions compared with lead-acid types make it more suitable for the latest e-bikes, whose standard weight should not exceed 40kg. In addition to a longer life span, Li-ion varieties deliver up to 350Wh/L weight-specific energy, higher than its lead counterpart’s 30Wh/kg.

China has 376 lithium battery makers at present, realizing total output of 799 million units in 1Q12. The key manufacturers include Huanyu New Energy Technology Co. Ltd, Beijing Easpring and BYD. The first plans to list at the US stock market next year as part of efforts to broaden market reach abroad. The supplier’s key clients include US and Germany companies Black & Decker and Bosch.

Expanding battery output
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Expanding battery output

The value of China’s entire battery industry rose 18 percent YoY to $53 billion in 1Q12, while sales amounted to $13.6 billion. This is reflected in the increase in overall production. Lead-acid battery output, for example, climbed by 23 percent to 14.6 million kVAh during the same period, accounting for 40 percent of global yield. Zhejiang province generated 7.1 million kVAh, equivalent to a 19 percent share in local production. The provinces of Hubei, Jiangsu and Shandong constituted the rest.

Global lead-acid battery output is forecast to surge to 240 million kVAh by 2015 from 37.7 million kVAh in 1Q12. This will be fueled by high demand from electric vehicles, and 3G and 4G base stations.

Local alkaline cell yield, meanwhile, reached 160.7 million units in 1Q12, up 6 percent YoY. Nearly 59 percent came from the province of Guangdong and the rest from Guangxi, Jiangsu and Tianjin provinces. The output value of NiMH varieties amounted to $81.8 million, a nearly 12 percent rise YoY. Sales were up by 10 percent at $780 million. There are 129 companies pursuing the line as of March this year.

Many enterprises are expanding production capacity, given the robust line. Jiangxi Shule, for instance, has allocated $23.6 million for the setting up of 25 storage battery and 120 polar plate manufacturing lines this year.

Guangxi Jieshen, meanwhile, will spend $682 million on the construction of 31 LiFePO₄ production lines. The project, which is in cooperation with the city of Laibin in Guangxi, will achieve an annual production value of $709 million upon completion.

China has nearly 1,200 battery manufacturers, many of which send products overseas. Fujian Quanzhou Dahua Battery Co. Ltd exports sealed lead-acid varieties to Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The country’s outbound shipments amounted to $4 billion in

Related reports:
LiFePO₄ batteries: R&D trends stress better performance, improved safety
NiMH batteries: Capacity buildup, feature enhancements spur growth of sector
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