One of the hotly debated topics in the battery sector is the possible estimates for Li-ion batteries in the 2020-2030 period. Not surprising, as battery prices to a significant extent determine the final cost and hence affordability of electric vehicles.
This post delves into the topic of battery prices and provides inputs on expected trends in EV battery prices for the 2020-2030 period, especially for Li-ion batteries.
Li-ion battery is not one single type of battery but represents a genre of batteries that include multiple chemistries. The characteristics of the battery varies by chemistry and so does the price.
Let’s hence first look at the common Li-ion battery chemistries:
One of the key variables that will determine the cost of the Li-ion battery will be the volume of production, which will be represented by the total global capacity availability for Li-ion battery production.
Estimates suggest a learning rate of around 18% for Li-ion battery production. This means that for every doubling of cumulative volume, we observe an 18% reduction in price. Based on this observation, and our battery demand forecast, we expect the price of an average battery pack to be around $94/kWh by 2024 and $62/kWh by 2030. It’s necessary here to highlight that this is the expected average price. Of course, some companies will undershoot and go to the market with lower prices, sooner. Others will be higher. Different cell and pack designs, a range of cathode chemistries on offer, economies of scale and regional differences will ensure there is a range in the market. A key downward driver of even lower average prices could be greater than forecast volumes. (BLoombergNEF)
- The expanding growth of electric vehicles is creating a huge demand for Li-ion batteries (LIBs). The demand for raw materials will therefore be hugely impacted and production in many cases will need to scale up rapidly.
- Investment in the supply chain requires clarity on the technologies and chemistries that will be used over the coming decade but there are many types of LIB chemistries in use. Furthermore, considerable investment is being poured into the research and development of the next generation of LIBs with news items on the next battery breakthrough a regular occurrence – stakeholders want clarity on the chemistries that will be used over the coming decade. Analysts appraise the possible LIB technology developments over the next decade, including alternative anodes, high-nickel cathodes and solid-state electrolytes.
- An analysis of the technical challenges and market activity for these key technological developments allows a technology outlook to be mapped, evaluating the evolving shares that different LIB chemistries and technologies will hold from 2020 to 2030.
- China has a strong position in various segments of the supply chain and will continue to do so. However, production capacity will grow in Europe and the US as auto manufacturers seek greater control and proximity to cell production.
- Both areas are also seeking to develop domestic supplies of raw materials, with a number being deemed critical and of strategic importance.
- Historic price reductions for LIBs have been well documented. However, the battery still accounts for a significant percentage of a battery electric vehicles (BEV) cost. To enable price parity between BEVs and internal combustion engine vehicles, further price reductions in LIBs are needed.
- By 2030, there could be over 250 GWh of LIB reaching end-of-life from electric vehicles alone. These batteries cannot just be landfilled. A number of jurisdiction are imposing collection requirements for automotive LIB packs.
- Repurposing the used EV batteries for 2nd-use presents an appealing opportunity to extend battery life and obtain additional values. However, given the costs associated with testing and repurposing a used battery, there may be more value in recycling.
- Recycling will become increasingly important as a source of raw material to mitigate supply risks.
- The forecasted growth in LIB demand makes it increasingly important to understand its supply chain. This new report provides insight on where materials come from, market players, recent investments in production and developments in the LIB technology. In addition to our 10-year demand forecasts and price analysis, the report will provide a comprehensive overview of the LIB supply chain.
- The demand for suitable automotive batteries and for battery raw materials, in particular cobalt and lithium, has soared and will continue to increase as the EV market expands, making battery recycling paramount. With an average battery mass of ~180 kg, each 125,000 EVs scrapped in 2030 will lead to 22,500 tonnes of battery requiring processing, out of which 3,600 will be recycled, leading to ~2,800 tonnes of valuable metals .
- This will mean that Europe will need to scale up its battery recycling capacity: the current Li-ion recycling capacity, estimated at 33,000 tonnes/year, will not be able to cope with the demand from exhausted EV batteries and some of the portable batteries not recycled today.
- For electric cars alone the current recycling capacity will be surpassed as early as the mid-2030s – with a recycling demand increasing to almost 100,000 tonnes of batteries in 2040. Recyclers will face further challenges, beyond the need for scaling up. In general, recycling is a capital-intensive business and the value of the recovered materials is usually not enough to cover recyclers’ expenses. As a result, a recycling fee is often charged.
- Only a few metals contained in Li-ion batteries are recovered using today’s recycling processes, mainly involving pyro- and hydro-metallurgical techniques, due to economic and scale considerations. As battery manufacturers are moving towards battery chemistries containing lower contents of valuable metals, especially cobalt which is difficult and expensive to source, recyclers will have to adopt new approaches to material recovery in order to ensure financial security.
The battery prices expected to trend between battery cells and Packs
How will the localization of battery manufacturing impact battery prices?
- The battery is the single most costly part of an EV, currently making up between 35 to 45 percent of the total cost. It is also expected to be the tightest in supply as EV production and supply chains ramp up in the coming years.
- Not having this strategic part of the production process close by carries significant supply-chain risks for OEMs and represents a lost opportunity for policymakers to locate a significant share of value creation in India.
- the risk is that falling production of ICE vehicles and EV production without secure local battery capacity might make the Indian automotive industry less competitive. OEMs typically prefer to manufacture their products close to the markets. Yet, they could prioritize being close to the critical part of their supply chains and move their EV production closer to battery manufacturing.
- sourcing from nearby battery manufacturers allows OEMs to eliminate supply-chain risks, including transport concerns for dangerous goods and working-capital issues while enabling co-development and troubleshooting of battery cells, packs, and EVs.
- We find that this can more than offset the potentially lower costs of a more distant planet, such as ones in countries that pay high up-front capital-expenditure subsidies, while allowing for greater flexibility and mitigating the risks associated with sourcing all batteries from one region.
So what do all these suggest for the Li-ion battery prices going forward?
While the prices will vary between different chemistries, EV Next estimates that the magic number of $100/kWh for the common Li-ion chemistries (NMC and LFP especially), will happen somewhere in the vicinity of 2025. For more premium battery chemistries such as LTO, price decreases could be more gradual as the production volumes for these are not expected to accelerate as much as they are expected for NMC and LFP.