STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Until about 25 years ago, the global battery market was considered mature, with demand closely related to sales of either automobiles or various consumer products. Since then, advanced batteries have helped spark a dramatic change in this relationship.
“Large and advanced battery” is an arbitrary designation developed by BCC Research to describe a market-driven battery classification. As defined in this report, large and advanced batteries must have three attributes: They must be secondary (rechargeable) electrochemical energy storage devices (batteries), “large” in terms of size and energy capacity, and technologically advanced.
This definition excludes all primary (nonrechargeable) batteries and all lead-acid automotive batteries, as well as all A, C, and D cylindrical batteries and button cells. Nonautomotive lead-acid batteries are included. Many portable product batteries, including computer power, portable tools, and battery-powered lawn-care products are included.
Several entirely new classes of advanced batteries have been commercialized during the last 25 years, including nickel-metal hydride and zinc-air designs. Meanwhile, improved microelectronic battery charger controller technology and clean room manufacturing techniques have allowed the commercialization of entirely new classes of batteries (lithium-ion and lithium-polymer). This has often been at the expense of previously important battery systems (notably nickel-cadmium and portable product lead-acid). This, in turn, has allowed the commercialization of portable products that would have been impossible without improved battery chargers, including portable computers and portable cordless hand tools.
As this synergy continues to develop, there are areas where the advanced battery industry could experience the explosive growth usually associated with emerging industries. Examples include hybrid vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles, as well as utility load leveling systems and wind power energy storage. Battery designers (mainly electrochemists) and battery charger designers (mainly electrical and electronics specialists) will continue to operate together, with new batteries and new battery chargers evolving together to produce even higher performance products.
REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY
Large and advanced battery technical advances, and a realignment of the battery industry players, must be matched by new marketing strategies. Battery designers and users now must cooperate to meet more demanding design requirements. At the same time, there must be an understanding of the competitive forces that help shape the market, along with up-to-date knowledge of competitor activities.
Improved batteries provide power to an ever-growing suite of portable products, including items that were previously powered by primary cells or first-generation rechargeables (flashlights, radios, etc.). There are also products that would not really be practical or convenient without state-of-the-art batteries (cellular phones and portable computers). There remains the potential for new giant battery markets; plug-in or hybrid vehicles are one example, as are new military battery applications. Extremely large batteries are also being evaluated for utility load leveling, wind farm power storage, and remote power generation.
Just as lithium batteries replaced nickel-based and primary batteries for many applications, current lithium-ion battery designs are beginning to be replaced by advanced lithium-ion chemistries like lithium phosphate, lithium iron phosphate, and lithium-polymer systems. Nickel-metal hydride batteries have been used in consumer electronics for decades and in HEVs for years, and are now being improved for large stationary applications. Giant sodium-sulfur batteries are being deployed by electric utilities. Even the venerable lead-acid battery is being improved using new materials.
Meanwhile, several important trends need to be tracked and analyzed. The second half of 2008 and the first half of 2009 were some of the most significant months in the history of advanced batteries.
First, several of lithium batteries’ largest and highest growth markets, including large and advanced markets for laptops, entered a period of retraction. This was due to global recessionary forces, including unemployment, difficulty obtaining consumer credit, and lower commercial demand. At the same time, gasoline prices peaked and fell from a high of more than $4 per gallon to less than $2 per gallon. Combined with the recession, this resulted in deeply lower demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, especially nickel metal hydride battery-powered hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). There were major concerns about the future of developmental plug-in EVs. Two leading would-be plug-in sources (GM and Chrysler) filed for bankruptcy.
On the other hand, government intervention more than offset some of these issues, especially for the early-stage U.S. lithium battery industry. First, the newly elected administration of President Barack Obama funded billions of dollars in U.S. large and advanced battery development with an emphasis on lithium batteries. The Obama administration also implemented new CAFE fuel-efficiency standards that will provide a significant incentive for wider HEV and EV use. Competing fuel cell transportation R&D was defined and then partially refunded. Finally, the U.S is working toward an industrial policy to help reduce the effects of global warming.
Since most large and advanced batteries are currently manufactured in Japan or China, many leading lithium battery companies are concentrated in the Far East. Lithium battery research and development takes place worldwide, but especially in the Far East, the United States, Europe (especially France), and Canada. In 2008 and 2009, there has been an aggressive move toward the wide commercialization of large-vehicle-size, lithium-ion cells. Even without government incentives, U.S. companies were preparing to manufacture and/or assemble large numbers of lithium batteries. Now, U.S. companies are proposing lithium battery projects worth billions of dollars. At the same time, there are more and more multinational lithium battery partnerships, including partnerships between U.S. and European or Far Eastern companies.
None of these developments was considered likely in early 2008. Previous forecasts and analyses did not consider them or treated them as relatively unlikely pessimistic or optimistic scenarios.
This BCC Research study is based on the new consensus.
This report is intended to provide a unique analysis of the U.S. large and advanced battery market, and will be of interest to manufacturers of batteries, battery chargers, and battery-powered products, including stationary and portable products, and battery-powered vehicles. It also will be valuable to those involved in large and advanced battery development and marketing, as well as those offering competing nonrechargeable power sources. Existing or potential battery consumers, as well as the military and the medical profession, can determine existing or potential battery markets. End users (OEMs or consumers) will learn what designs battery systems will and will not allow.
This report also can provide valuable information in terms of assessing investment in particular technologies and, therefore, should benefit investors directly or indirectly. Battery suppliers also may find market trends of interest in view of establishing growth strategies. BCC Research wishes to thank those companies, government agencies, and university researchers who contributed information for this report.
SCOPE OF REPORT
This report begins with a discussion of general battery technology. The following kinds of large and advanced batteries are discussed:
- First-generation large and advanced battery systems
o Lead-acid batteries
o Nickel-cadmium batteries
- Next-generation large and advanced battery systems
o Nickel-metal hydride batteries
o Lithium-ion batteries
o Lithium-polymer batteries
- Specialty large and advanced battery systems
o Silver-zinc secondary batteries
o Silver-cadmium secondary batteries
o Nickel-hydrogen secondary batteries
o Nickel-zinc batteries
o Metal-air batteries
- Developmental large and advanced battery systems
o Sodium-sulfur batteries
o High-temperature lithium batteries
o Redox and flow batteries
o Nickel-iron batteries
o Calcium-metal sulfide batteries
o Sodium-metal chloride batteries
o Lithium-sulfur batteries
Next, the following established markets are considered in this report:
- Motive power: traction, marine and aviation
- Portable product power: computers, hand tools and lawn care products, military/aerospace
- Stationary power: uninterruptible power supplies, emergency lighting, remote power and alternative energy storage
- Hybrid electric vehicles
Large and advanced batteries also will be used in the following developing markets:
- Advanced automotive
- Plug-in vehicles
- Utility load leveling
- Developmental military/aerospace applications
These market sectors are defined, leading companies are identified, and the markets analyzed (including a 5-year market forecast). Finally, large- and advanced-battery companies are outlined in the Company Profiles section.
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this report, which is based on interviews with commercial and government sources, literature reviews, and patent examinations. Throughout the report, past market data is expressed in current dollars, and estimates and projections are in constant 2009 dollars. Historic markets and the projected market for 2014 are provided. Most market summaries are based on a consensus scenario that assumes no unanticipated technical advances and no unexpected legislation. Pessimistic, consensus, and optimistic market scenarios characterize several developmental markets. Totals are rounded to the nearest million dollars. When appropriate, information from previously published sources is identified to allow a more detailed examination by clients.
Market assumptions used in this report include those based on updates of material from an earlier version of this analysis, as well as from BCC Research studies Portable Battery Powered Products and Lithium Batteries: Markets and Materials. This report’s author prepared these studies as well. He also edits the twice-monthly BCC Research newsletter, “Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Progress,” which is another valuable source for this important large and advanced market sector. Although many segments of the industry are well documented, much of this information is based on estimates, not hard facts. The distinction between these estimates and hard facts can be vital, and wherever possible, sources are identified.
This report’s project analyst, Donald Saxman, is the editor of BCC Research’s Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Progress and Fuel Cell Industry Report newsletters, and has founded several other BCC newsletters. Saxman has more than 28 years of experience in market analysis, technical writing, and newsletter editing. Since 1983, he has operated as a technical market consultant and subcontractor to BCC Research, and in this capacity, he has prepared more than 80 technology market research reports, including many that covered battery technology and battery markets. His previous experience includes supervision of a quality-control laboratory at a major secondary lead refinery, experience as an analytical chemist at a hazardous waste testing service, product assurance manager for a space station life-support-system project, and an information technology business analyst and project manager.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.