What is the intention behind the introduction of sodium batteries in CATL?
Recently, Ningde Times Chairman Zeng Yuqun said that sodium batteries will be announced in the second half of 2021. As soon as this statement was made, the originally unknown sodium battery became the focus of market attention overnight, and the stocks of sodium battery related concepts rose sharply. As the world's largest supplier of lithium-ion batteries, CATL announced its intention to launch sodium batteries? What kind of scheming behind it? The advantages and disadvantages of sodium batteries From the working principle, the nature of sodium batteries and lithium-ion batteries It is exactly the same. The charging and discharging of the battery is realized by the insertion and separation of sodium ions or lithium ions between the positive and negative electrodes, but the charge carrier is sodium ions or lithium ions. The cathode materials of sodium batteries include transition metal oxides, sodium transition metal phosphates, etc.; the anode materials include soft carbon, hard carbon, transition metal oxides, etc.; the electrolyte is basically similar to that of lithium ion batteries. The biggest problem with sodium batteries is their insufficient energy density, which is even lower than that of lithium iron phosphate batteries. At present, the cell energy density of sodium batteries on the market is generally 100-150Wh/kg, while the cell energy density of ternary lithium-ion batteries can reach about 250Wh/kg. The cell energy density of lithium iron phosphate batteries has also reached about 180Wh/kg. In addition, sodium batteries are still in the early stages of research and development, and there is no advantage in cost in a short time. However, with the expansion of production, the cost of sodium batteries will also become inevitable. However, sodium batteries also have incomparable advantages, such as higher reserves of core raw materials and lower mining difficulty. However, the biggest oil point of sodium batteries is that they are safer in the face of squeezing, puncture and other scenarios. Currently, the raw materials of lithium-ion batteries have to rely heavily on imports, and we are also currently facing relatively large price increases. Regarding electric vehicles, the key to promoting electric vehicles is to keep their prices at the same level as fuel vehicles. At present, people's acceptance of lithium iron phosphate batteries is getting higher and higher, which proves that people are more and more rational about cruising range and do not blindly pursue the lead in absolute number of cruising range. The hidden worries of the raw material supply side of lithium-ion batteries From the raw material point of view, whether it is lithium iron phosphate or ternary lithium batteries, they cannot escape from the lithium mine. The global lithium deposits are not only relatively limited, their content in the crust is only 0.0065%; and most of them are located in Australia and the South American continent, especially the South American continent occupies 70% of the reserves. At present, relations between China and Australia are tense, and South America is the back garden of the United States. Once the international situation becomes tense again in the future, we are likely to face the possibility that even if the price is high, there is no way to import lithium mines. In comparison, sodium reserves are relatively high and it is very easy to mine. Once the price of lithium ore continues to rise in the future, the advantages of sodium batteries will gradually become apparent. After all, looking at the world, consumers not only have the pursuit of high-endurance pure electric vehicles, but also have a large demand for electric vehicles as long as they meet daily mobility and low-endurance electric vehicles, and the demand for the latter is somewhat greater than the former. Just like Wuling Hongguang MINIEV, which continues to be popular in China, both lithium iron phosphate and ternary lithium batteries will be affected by the price of lithium ore. Although there is still a gap in the energy density of sodium batteries compared with lithium-ion batteries in a short period of time, with continuous iterative research and development, it is not impossible to approach lithium iron phosphate batteries. Just like BYD's blade battery compared with the current ternary lithium battery, there is not much disadvantage in energy density, but the advantages in price and safety and stability are enough to make consumers rush. Entering the field of energy storage Compared with the on-board power lithium battery of electric vehicles, the field of energy storage is also an area to be deeply cultivated in the Ningde era. For the Ningde era, entering the field of energy storage can realize the expansion of its own industrial chain, allowing itself to find new opportunities in a broader field. According to relevant financial reports, the sales revenue of Ningde Times' energy storage system will be 1.943 billion yuan in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 218.56%. From the perspective of revenue, the gross profit margin of the energy storage system in 2020 will reach 36.03%, which is much higher than the 26.56% of the power lithium battery system. As we pay more and more attention to green electricity, the market potential of the energy storage industry is also growing. According to relevant data, as of the third quarter of 2020, 186.1GW of electric energy storage projects have been put into operation worldwide, of which pumped storage accounts for 91.9% and electrochemical energy storage accounts for 5.9%. Compared with hydropower, this form of energy storage will be restricted by the geographical environment, electrochemical energy storage will become an important technical route in the field of energy storage in the future. As of the third quarter of 2020, the cumulative installed capacity of global electrochemical energy storage has reached 10.9 GW, an increase of 16.5 times over 2012, and its rise is significantly faster than that of hydropower. Finding a low-cost, high-safety energy storage carrier will inevitably have a very broad commercial prospect. Regardless of cost or stability, sodium batteries are more suitable than lithium-ion batteries to become a carrier in the field of energy storage. Therefore, in addition to low-cost pure electric vehicles that do not require high cruising range, CATL hopes to have a broader layout in the field of energy storage and become a new business rising point for the company after power lithium batteries. In the field of sodium batteries, there are also a number of sodium battery companies in China, including Zhongke Hai Na, Zhejiang Anli Energy, etc., which are basically at the same level as foreign counterparts in technology. In the future, from the government's point of view, it is possible to pay more attention to the technical route of sodium batteries in the investment of renewable energy projects. Said, all have a relatively important meaning.