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Lithium Battery Technology Developments

Batteries are one of the largest demand drivers for lithium and the market is only expected to grow. This week, international metals and minerals research firm Roskill released a report on the dependence that the lithium market has on batteries, stating that rechargeable battery demand accounts for nearly one-third of global lithium demand.

Despite waning investor interest in most other commodities in this period of economic downturn, lithium demand is still on the rise, a fact that Roskill attributes to the rising output of portable consumer electronics. Roskill sees lithium demand growing roughly 8 percent per year in a base-case scenario. Furthermore, the firm sees demand from consumer electronics being replaced by electric vehicles (EVs).

Navigant Research sees the capacity for lithium-ion batteries for EVs multiplying by more than 10 times by 2020. As an increasing number of automakers shift from nickel-metal hydride batteries to lithium-ion batteries, technologies are only going to get better to meet industry requirements. Lithium-ion battery capacity, according to Navigant, could see an increase from 4,400 megawatt hours (MWh) in the current year to nearly 49,000 MWh.

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Commenting on the types of changes that the battery industry could look forward to in the future, David Alexander, senior research analyst with Navigant Research, said in a note that “[l]i-ion technology continues to improve, as increased energy densities translate into smaller and lighter battery packs with more power.”

Alexander went on to state that “leading battery cell manufacturers have built new factories utilizing the latest production techniques, including greater automation and faster throughput,” leading to a “reduction in the cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) over the next few years, provided that volumes continue to increase.”
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