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Miscellaneous/Ask Isidor/Global Battery Market Growth 051227
(Jan 2006)Q: What is the projection for
global battery market growth?

A: The global battery market is about $50 billion US, of which roughly $5.5 billion is allocated to rechargeable (secondary) batteries. The growth is estimated at 6% annually through 2006. China, India, Brazil, the Czech Republic and South Korea will record some of the strongest market gains.

The Freedonia Group, Inc. predicts a US demand of primary and secondary batteries of $US 14 billion by the year 2007. A new generation of energy-hungry electronic devices, such as digital cameras, camera phones and high performance portable computing devices, will drive the growth. Figure 1 projects the consumption of primary and secondary batteries in the USA to the year 2012.

Adobe Photoshop ImageFigure 1: Projected demand for batteries.
Each incremental improvement of the battery opens the doors for new applications. +

Alkaline will dominate the primary battery market. Others primary batteries will be Lithium and Zinc-air. Primary batteries can be stored up to 10 years and have much higher energy densities than secondary batteries. Figure 2 compares the predicted use of primary Alkaline with other chemistries.

Lead-acid will account for half the demand of rechargeables. This battery is mainly used for automotive and stand-by applications. Because of low cost and dependable service in adverse environmental conditions, Lead-acid will enjoy a steady increase through to the year 2012. Lithium-based batteries may start to take over some Lead-acid applications if the price can be lowered and the service life prolonged.

Adobe Photoshop ImageFigure 2: Primary alkaline is leading the market.

Other primary chemistries are expected to increase at a slower pace. +

The demand for Lead-acid batteries is governed by vehicle production. Battery replacements have decreased as new technologies have extended battery life by 6 months. With the switch to electronic braking and steering by wire in upscale cars, the 3kW capability of the single 12-volt battery will no longer be sufficient, ushering in the 42-Volt system. Two 12-Volt batteries may be the interim solution.

Hybrid vehicles require a high Voltage battery of about 150V, which is currently provided by connecting Nickel-metal hydride cells in series. Battery manufacturers are asked to provide a 8-10-year warranty to ensure that the battery will last for the life of the car. A replacement of the main battery would cost as much as installing a new motor.

Lithium-ion will lead the demand in powering portable devices. The market for Nickel-cadmium, on the other hand, is shrinking. This chemistry will be replaced with Nickel-metal hydride. Nickel-cadmium still holds a major share for power tools, two-way radios and medical devices. This chemistry is preferred over Nickel-metal hydride for its high durability and reliable service but some countries will ban its use by 2006 for environmental reasons. Exceptions will be made if the substitute is unsuitable.

Adobe Photoshop ImageFigure 3: Lead-acid will be the most commonly used secondary battery.

Among portable secondary batteries, Lithium-ion shows the most promise.+

Little excitement is in store for alternative rechargeable batteries. If the predictions are correct, new chemistries will make up less than 7% of all secondary batteries.
With no major breakthrough, the fuel cell will play an insignificant role in providing power for future applications. Cost, size and performance are the main obstacles. Although continuous in operation by replacing fuel capsules, the fuel cell, as we know it today, still needs a backup battery to satisfy the power requirements of modern portable equipment.

By the look of things, the electro-chemical battery may keep its present position for some time to come. This puts the miracle battery to the back burner, a battery was supposed to power a laptop for days and enable heated clothing for North Pole expeditions.

Where will commercial batteries come from?

The battery industry is becoming consolidated; competition will remain intense. The top Japanese suppliers held 80% of the market last year, but new contenders from other countries in Asia are making strong in-roads. BYD Battery Co. Ltd. in China is an example of a major new global battery producer. LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in South Korea are following. These companies are gaining ground due to low pricing and improving quality.

The price of Lithium-ion batteries has dropped by 20-50% during the last few years. This prompts established battery manufacturers to shift production to lower-cost regions such as China. Nickel-cadmium and Nickel-metalhydride batteries are not immune to price declines. Prices have dropped by 10-20%.

The USA and Europe will continue to produce specialty batteries, mainly used for defense and industrial applications. In comparison to the mass-produced batteries from Asia, American and European packs will be more expensive.  

References: The Freedonia Group, Inc.; Barry Huret, president of battery consulting company Huret Associates Inc. in Yardley, Pa, USA (                    BD