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Invest in the right battery markets: New opportunities
Dr. Xiaoxi He
JUN 05, 2016 04:21 AM
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Invest in the right battery markets: New opportunities

There are significant investment opportunities now in various battery markets. According to an IDTechEx Research report, Flexible, Printed and Thin Film Batteries 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, Players  , the total market for thin, flexible and printed batteries will reach $471 million by 2026.

And last year there were a number of interesting developments:  

·       The launch of Tesla's Powerwall with low potential prices supported by the capability of Gigafactory;

·       Apple's patent relating to charging and managing power in a device with solid-state batteries;

·       LG Chem's opening of a mega battery plant in Nanjing;

·       Bosch's purchase of polymer solid-state battery company Seeo.

There were also a tremendous number of investment, acquisitions, partnerships and joint ventures.

An array of opportunities

With the development of wearable devices, printed electronics, IoT, robotics and electric vehicles, batteries with more features, more powerful performance and lower costs are required. Some examples:

  • Thin-film batteries (based on thickness)
  • Micro-batteries and large-area batteries (based on size)
  • Flexible batteries (based on mechanical properties)
  • Special-shape batteries (based on form factors)
  • Printed batteries (based on manufacturing methods)
  • Solid-state, lithium anode, silicon anode batteries (based on technologies)
  • Energy storage system (ESS) and electric vehicle (EV) applications (based on applications)

With the aforementioned, there may be some overlap. For instance, better battery technologies may be used in ESS and EV applications, providing improved safety and enhanced performance. A thin-film battery is also flexible, and can be made by printing, or based on all solid-state components, or be very small. Market growth of these areas is affected by the costs and technology maturity.

Further cost reduction may not rely on technology improvement

It is common that one or several battery improvements are emphasized but others are neglected. Battery development is a long and slow process therefore future battery cost reduction may mainly rely on economy of scale, and little on technology improvement. As growth in consumer electronics is approaching a plateau, demand is further created in the EV and ESS sectors. Cost reduction is the key.

Regulations and policies play a significant role in large deployment

The German market incentive program for battery storage systems introduced in May 2013 immediately changed the residential battery installation structure, with 2,700 installations benefiting from these incentives in 2013 to 13,100 by 2015. Also, China's decision to remove subsidies for nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries for electric buses also crucially influenced this industry. It indicated that for ESS or EV applications, self-sustainability has not been fully achieved and therefore policy changes can affect them greatly. 

Thinness, flexibility and printed possibility will be addressed

Large devices or systems generally require high reliability and safety so new battery technologies tend to be applied in small electronic gadgets first.

More leading-edge information about the battery business will be covered at the IDTechEx Show! on Nov. 16-17 in Santa Clara, Calif.




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