Battery Supply Chains

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David Vonlanthen, PhD

David Vonlanthen, PhD

Editor

Diversified battery supply chains based on a sophisticated circular economy strategy will become increasingly important. Batteries typically account for 30 to 40% of the value of an electric vehicle (EV), and the race to net-zero 2050 will focus attention on the security of supply of the metal minerals needed to make the batteries and manufacturing of the batteries.

What is a supply chain?

A supply chain is a complex logistical system consisting of facilities where raw materials are transformed into finished products that are later distributed to end users. Supply chain management, meanwhile, deals with the flow of goods within the supply chain in the most efficient way possible.

Lieferkettern-Supply-Chains-Lithium-Ionen-Batterien
Battery Supply chains

Recycle used products at any point of the supply chain

In sophisticated supply chain systems, used products can re-enter the supply chain at any point where a residual value is recyclable. Supply chains are a link between value chains. Suppliers in a supply chain are often organized by “tiers,” with first-tier suppliers delivering directly to the customer, second-tier suppliers delivering to the first tier, and so on.

Top Topic - Batteries Supply Chain

Battery Supply chains are and will become increasingly important. Batteries typically account for 30 to 40% of the value of an electric vehicle (EV), and the race to zero will focus attention on the security of supply of the minerals needed to make the batteries and manufacture the batteries.

Sales of electric cars (and batteries) continue to break records

Few areas in the clean energy world are as dynamic as EV markets. In 2021, electric car sales broke records, with nearly 11% of global car sales being electric cars, four times their market share in 2019, and public and private spending on EVs doubled compared to 2020.

Today's (2023) supply chains for batteries and minerals are in China

Today’s (2023) supply chains for lithium-ion batteries and battery minerals are mainly in China.

China produces three-quarters of all lithium-ion batteries and has 70% of the production capacity for cathodes and 85% for anodes (both are key battery components). More than half of the lithium, cobalt and graphite processing and refining capacity is located in China.

Europe is involved in the supply chain for more than a quarter of global EV assembly, apart from cobalt processing at 20%. The United States plays an even smaller role in the global EV battery supply chain, with only 10% of EV production and 7% of battery production capacity.

The world also depends on Korea's and Japan's supply chains

Korea and Japan have significant shares in the supply chain downstream of raw material processing, especially in the highly technical production of cathode and anode materials.

Korea accounts for 14% of the world’s cathode material production capacity, while Japan accounts for 14% of cathode material production and 12% of anode material production. Korean and Japanese companies are also involved in the production of other battery components, such as separators.

Most minerals are mined in resource-rich countries such as Australia, Chile and the Democratic Republic of Congo and supplied by a few large companies.

Governments in Europe and the United States have launched bold public sector initiatives to develop domestic battery supply chains, but most of the EV battery supply chain is expected to remain in China through 2030. For example, 71% of the battery production capacity announced for the period through 2030 is in China.

Diversified battery supply chains based on a sophisticated circular economy strategy will become increasingly important. Batteries typically account for 30 to 40% of the value of an electric vehicle (EV), and the race to net-zero 2050 will focus attention on the security of supply of the metal minerals needed to make the batteries and manufacturing of the batteries.

In May 2022, lithium prices were more than seven times higher than in early 2021, reflecting unprecedented demand for batteries and a lack of sufficient investment in new supply capacity. Meanwhile, Russia supplies 20% of the world’s high-purity nickel. Average battery prices fell 6% to $132 per kilowatt-hour in 2021, a slower decline than the 13% drop the year before. If metal prices in 2022 remain as high as in the first quarter of

quarter, battery packs would become 15% more expensive than they were in 2021, if all other factors remain the same. However, the relative competitiveness of e-vehicles remains unaffected given the current oil price environment.

Critical battery materials

Pressure on the supply of critical materials will continue to increase as the electrification of road transport continues to achieve net-zero intentions.

EV battery demand will increase from around 340 GWh today, to over 3500 GWh by 2030 in the announced commitments scenario. Cell components and their supply will also have to increase by the same amount.

In the short term, additional investment is needed, particularly in mining, where lead times are much longer than for other parts of the supply chain.

In some cases, it takes more than a decade from initial feasibility studies to production and then several more years to reach nominal production capacity.

Projected mineral supply by the end of the 2020s is in line with demand for for EV batteries in the Stipulated Policy Scenario (STEPS). But supply of some minerals, such as lithium, would need to increase by up to one-third by 2030 to meet the commitments and announcements for EV batteries in the STEPS.

For example, demand for lithium – the commodity with the largest projected gap between supply and demand – is projected to increase six-fold to 500 kilotons by 2030 in the GSP, requiring the equivalent of 51 new average-sized mines.

Recycling, new and alternative cathode materials can remedy the situation

Other variables are affecting mineral demand. If current high commodity prices continue, cathode types could shift to less mineral-intensive variants. For example, lithium iron phosphate (LFP) alternative cathode material does not require nickel or cobalt, but has a lower energy density and is therefore better suited for shorter range vehicles.

The share of LFP batteries in global EV has more than doubled since 2020, driven by high mineral prices and technological innovation predominantly driven by the increasing in China

Innovations in new chemical processes, such as new manganese-containing cathodes or even sodium ions, could reduce the pressure on mining. Recycling may also reduce demand for minerals. Although the impact between now and 2030 is likely to be small, the contribution of recycling to dampening mineral demand after 2030 is critical.

Under Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario, demand increases even faster, requiring additional demand-side measures and technological innovation. Today’s corporate and consumer preference for large car models such as sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which account for half of all electric models available worldwide and require larger batteries to travel the same distances, exerts additional pressure.

Lieferkettern-Supply-Chains-Lithium-Ionen-Batterien
Battery Supply chains

Battery and material supply chains will determine the success of electromobility

The electrification of road transport requires a wide range of raw materials. All stages of the supply chain must be optimized, but extraction and processing are particularly critical due to long lead times.

Governments need to stimulate private investment in sustainable mining and ensure clear and fast permitting procedures to avoid potential supply shortages. Innovation and alternative chemical processes that require smaller quantities of critical minerals, as well as comprehensive battery recycling, can reduce demand pressures and help avoid shortages.

Introduction of smaller cars

Incentives for battery “and the introduction of smaller cars can also reduce demand for critical metals. Governments should strengthen cooperation between producer and consumer countries to facilitate investment, promote environmentally and socially sustainable practices, and foster knowledge sharing. Governments should ensure traceability of key EV components and progress toward ambitious social development goals at every stage of battery and EV supply chains.

References

  1. Ghiani, Gianpaolo; Laporte, Gilbert; Musmanno, Roberto (2004). Introduction to Logistics Systems Planning and Control. John Wiley & Sons. p. 3-4. ISBN 9780470849170.
  2. Kozlenkova, Irina; et al. (2015). “The Role of Marketing Channels in Supply Chain Management”. Journal of Retailing. 91(4): 586–609. doi:10.1016/j.jretai.2015.03.003.
  3. Nagurney, Anna (2006). Supply Chain Network Economics: Dynamics of Prices, Flows, and Profits. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. ISBN 978-1-84542-916-4.
  4. Text parts taken from Global Supply Chains of EV Batteries, (2022), IEA Publications, Retrieved January 2023.
  5. EV battery production faces supply chain, geopolitical headwinds – report, Reuter, 2022
  6. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lieferkette#Allgemeines
  7. https://www.mecalux.de/blog/was-ist-supply-chain

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