With the explosion of new energy vehicle (NEV) production and sales, the installed capacity of power batteries has also seen rapid growth, in turn promoting the rising demand for battery materials, according to a report. Among battery materials, cathode materials are most in demand for power batteries and their shipments have benefited from the rapid growth of the NEV market. It is estimated that the global demand for power battery cathode materials in 2021 will reach 600,000 tons and this number is expected to exceed 2.15 million tons by 2025.
As the largest downstream application market for lithium batteries, electric vehicles account for more than 60% of total lithium battery consumption. With the estimated total consumption of lithium batteries for electric vehicles worldwide reaching 310GWh this year, the corresponding demand for cathode materials will reach approximately 604,000 tons.
According to statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China’s NEV sales reached 2.99 million vehicles between January and November of this year, accounting for approximately 50% of total global sales of NEVs, and becoming the key to boosting global demand for power battery installations. During this period (January to November), the installed capacity of power batteries in the Chinese market reached 128.3GWh, a YoY growth rate of 153.1%. The cumulative installed capacity of lithium iron phosphate batteries reached 64.8GWh, surpassing the 63.3GWh installed capacity of ternary batteries for the first time.
It is believed, benefiting from strong market demand for electric vehicles, lithium battery material manufacturers (representative of cathode materials) have started a new round of large-scale production expansion this year and are expected to gradually release new production capacity in the next 2 to 3 years, relieving tight market demand. At present, the overall capacity utilization rate of China’s cathode material industry is not high. Taking lithium iron phosphate materials as an example, the capacity utilization rate of China’s lithium iron phosphate cathode materials in 2020 is approximately 44% and is expected to rise to 56% this year. Whether or not future global market demand of more than 2 million tons can be met will depend on whether the new production capacity of cathode materials can come online according to schedule and whether the supply of key raw material lithium carbonate is sufficient.