With the development of energy storage batteries, where will the lithium industry go?
Solar power generation has always been hailed as environmentally friendly energy. Over the past 10 years, the sharp drop in costs has made solar panels and wind turbines increasingly competitive with coal and natural gas. However, the development and trend of batteries that carry electrical energy will affect the development of this technological project.
Nowadays, the same thing is happening to batteries, which will make electric vehicles cheaper and allow the grid to store excess energy so that it can be supplied when needed. energy. It is estimated that by 2040, the demand for batteries in the transportation industry will rise nearly 40 times, and this rise will put increasing pressure on the raw material supply chain. The increasing number of electric vehicles in the world will increase the demand for lithium-ion batteries as a source of power. The supply of raw materials used in lithium-ion batteries may become a worrying issue.
Unlike solar panels, in the absence of action to solve the shortage of key raw materials, new battery production alone is not enough to ensure that prices continue to fall. Lithium-ion batteries contain rare metals such as cobalt. The price of cobalt has doubled in the past two years, raising the production price of batteries.
According to the output of 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity, the cost of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 75% in the past 8 years. But this rise will put increasing pressure on the raw material supply chain. As a result, major automakers are already switching to lithium-ion batteries that use 75% less cobalt than current technology.
The good news is that the battery industry is making attempts not only to increase the amount of electricity that batteries can store with the same amount of raw materials, but also to switch to a more abundant supply of metals.
Investors are investing heavily in start-up companies that are expected to develop promising new battery technologies. Public utilities that want to develop static power storage facilities are also considering the use of so-called liquid Flow batteries, which use recyclable materials such as vanadium.
After more than 20 years of development, the vanadium redox flow battery has become a relatively mature energy storage technology. Its application direction is mainly MWh-level large-scale energy storage stations of new energy electric fields and power grids. Compared with lithium-ion batteries, which are important as mobile power sources, their relationship is like the relationship between a rice scoop and a spatula, and there is no room for mutual substitution. The important competitors of all-vanadium flow batteries are large-scale energy storage technologies such as hydraulic energy storage and compressed air energy storage, as well as flow batteries of other systems.
Utilities will switch to flow batteries, which store electrical energy in separate large containers filled with liquid electrolyte, which are then pumped through a Batteries. This battery can use different raw materials such as vanadium, which is a metal that is currently used in the steel industry.
The advantage of vanadium batteries is that the power loss is not as fast as lithium-ion batteries (this process is called power decay). Vanadium can also be easily recycled.
There are three important advantages of vanadium flow battery relative to lithium ion battery:
First, it is convenient to scale. A set of system can be as big as your home freezer, or as big as a substation in your community, with enough power for your home for a day to a year. You can design it whatever you want.
Second, long service life. You can also use it for half a century.
Third, the security is better. Faced with the taboo high current and overcharge and overdischarge of lithium-ion batteries, there is no pressure, and there is no fire or explosion at all.
my country dominates vanadium production, accounting for half of the global supply. With the increase in the number of battery manufacturers in my country, most of the batteries may be manufactured in my country in the next few decades. According to BenchmarkMineralIntelligence data, by 2028, half of the world's battery production may be in my country.
When vanadium batteries are widely used in electrical energy storage equipment for solar power generation, the application of this technology will enable environmentally friendly renewable energy to recharge the lithium-ion batteries of electric vehicles. A large amount of lithium resources can also be applied to battery applications in automobiles and electronic technology.