European Threat Perspective

Lithium-ion battery market is moving into surge mode

26 May 2022

Figures for 2020 – 2021 show that the global Li-ion battery market is moving into surge mode. According to Interact Analysis’s newly-released Li-ion battery database, global shipments in 2021 equated to 476.3GWh, amounting to a 72.6 percent increase on 2020, and that wasn’t a blip. 

Interact Analysis has identified this as being part of a longer-term trend. What are the drivers to the Li-ion battery revolution?

Energy storage is the growth story

Unsurprisingly, it’s the electric vehicle sector that is driving demand for Li-ion battery technology. In 2021, EV battery shipments accounted for 354.5GWh, representing 74.4 percent of total battery shipments and a phenomenal year-on-year increase in EV battery shipments of 90.2 percent. 

But the increase of shipments in the same period to the energy storage sector (ESS) was even more marked – 113.3 percent. Accounting for 11.8 percent of total battery shipments, ESS is way behind the EV sector in terms of demand, but the huge 2021 increase is a clear pointer to sustained future growth. Meanwhile, consumer electronics (CE) battery shipments totalled 65.5GWh, representing 13.8 percent of total shipments, a year-on-year increase of 6.3 percent.

Impact of Ukraine conflict will be limited

Russia and Ukraine have vast untapped lithium reserves, and Russia is currently a big exporter of nickel, palladium, aluminium, platinum, steel, and copper. The situation in Ukraine and the resultant sanctions on Russia will therefore will inevitably lead to shortages in the supply of some industrial raw materials. The Li-ion battery market will be impacted to some extent, but we do not think the effects will be massive. In terms of lithium, the key point is that most reserves in Russia and Ukraine are as yet untapped. The war has delayed plans to extract it, but it has not taken much existing production offline.

Looking out to 2026

We estimate that global demand for Li-ion batteries will rise to over 1.6TWh by 2026, representing a 5-year CAGR of 27.9 percent. The share of shipments to EV manufacturers will remain stable, standing at 75.9 percent of the total, but there’ll be growth in demand from the ESS sector, with shipments forecast to total 312.4GWh, accounting for 19.2 percent of all battery shipments: a 5-year CAGR of 40.9 percent. CE battery shipments are expected to total 81.3GWh over the 5-year period, with a CAGR of 4.4 percent.

APAC to dominate the demand market

In terms of regional demand, APAC will dominate throughout the forecast period. The region gobbled up 75.1 percent of all battery shipments in 2021, and will almost maintain its share going up to 2026, when it will hit 74.3 percent. But we expect the Li-ion battery market in the Americas to enjoy the highest growth rate over the next 5 years, when it will see a CAGR of 29.5 percent. EMEA will follow, with a 27.9 percent CAGR, and only then APAC at 27.6 percent. Despite the relatively higher Americas and EMEA demand growth rates, though, the increase in production capacity is a gradual process. Even 2-3 years from now, neither region will be able to meet all its local demand.

Battery OEMs – no end in sight to production constraints

The big question about OEMs is whether they are bringing new manufacturing capacity online quickly enough. Currently, battery supply is very tight, and this situation will last until 2023. Supply is so tight that when vehicle manufacturers make their production plans, they must first reserve battery production capacity in advance. 

Battery supply issues have led many battery OEMs to lay out incredibly ambitions plans to expand their battery production capacity. According to our battery production capacity tracking database, though, these plans will be slow to roll out in practice. Many battery OEMs are trumpeting production targets such as 50GWh, but a lot of this is spin. The reality is that many of the most ambitious battery capacity expansion plans have much more modest roll-out plans, which are usually in phased sections of more like 10GWh. For this reason, we believe high-quality production capacity will be lacking for a long time.

Market shares of LFP and NCM/NCA batteries to be even by 2026

The market share of different Li-ion battery technologies is changing. Back in 2018, lithium cobalt (LCO) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries accounted for over 50 percent of the global market. But LCO’s share has steadily declined over the past three years, in line with the decline in growth of the consumer electronics sector. Conversely, the demand for high quality nickel-cobalt-aluminium oxide (NCA) / nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) batteries from the electric vehicle and industrial energy storage sectors has exceeded supply, which is why many battery makers announced plans to expand production capacity between 2018 and 2020. We forecast that the market shares of LFP batteries and NCM/NCA batteries will be evenly divided by 2026.

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