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The lithium-ion battery market is on a fast track to growth thanks to the ongoing expansion of the electric vehicle market. Both markets are expected to accelerate this decade.
According to a recent Benchmark Mineral Intelligence report, by 2030, the global lithium-ion production capacity might exceed 6 TWh (or 6,000 GWh). This forecast is based on current plans announced by battery manufacturers.
“The numbers include around 1 TWh of existing battery capacity as of the end of 2021.
At 6 TWh of capacity the world could produce around 109 million EVs, although this is based on all the plants coming into production and operating at full capacity.
In reality it’s likely that around 70% of the gigafactories in pipeline will come into production with an average global capacity utilisation of 70%, according to Simon Moores, chief executive of Benchmark.”
Let’s recall that in 2021, the global passenger xEV (BEVs, PHEVs, HEVs) battery market more than doubled to close to 286 GWh (Adamas Intelligence data).
In general, the battery market expands faster than the electric vehicle market, because the average battery capacity per vehicle increases. Not only that, more and more batteries are envisioned for battery energy storage systems.
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence notes that the lithium-ion battery market not only accelerates but becomes more localized, as manufacturers intend to lower costs and reduce the risk of trade disruption.
According to the report, it appears that the scale of the projects in North America and Europe outpace China and the global average. North America’s share of the global battery capacity is expected to reach 10% by 2026 (up from 6% today). In Europe, it might be 12% (up from 7% today). Nonetheless, China holds will still hold the largest share.
A side effect of the unprecedented increase in lithium-ion production is the surging demand for specific raw materials like lithium, and some cathode elements – like cobalt and nickel (it affects prices).
The forecast says that the lithium raw material supply will have to expand by an order of magnitude to achieve 6 TWh battery production (5 million tonnes of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent – LCE).