A Faster Lithium Battery Value Chain

Faster: Learning to move at market speed

Lithium batteries are an increasingly vital component of today’s switched on world. In 2010, they produced about 20 gigawatt hours of power, by 2030, that figure is set to leap to 2000GWh

However, with this growth comes a real sense of urgency in making sure the batteries remain effective, are delivered to market at speed, and the production line can continue to work smoothly under increasing pressure. In the second part of this series, we will look at exactly how the market can manage that leap to 2000GWh, and how it can maintain speed and effectiveness while doing so.

The rate of increase in global lithium capacity from 2010 to 2030 is anticipated to be 9900%

Demand for lithium batteries was initially driven by consumer electronics, firstly through camcorders then laptops and latterly smartphones. Today, the global push to cut emissions in vehicles, ships and freight has seen a dramatic shift to electrification, creating its own booming battery market.

Serving such a rapidly expanding market takes formidable industrial resources. Modern gigafactories are capable of producing millions of lithium battery cells every day. However, maintaining the smooth running of such gigantic operations can be challenging – and it means that one small change at one part of the value chain can have huge repercussions further down the line.
Added to that is the race to develop the next gold standard in battery technology and subsequently lead the market. Doing so means making sure that what you design in the lab is actually manufacturable at scale. Implementing the latest battery advances must be seamless.

But roadblocks to such progress can exist all the way through the supply chain. Securing a stable source of materials, for example, can be difficult. Raw materials suppliers are typically more third-party suppliers than business partners, meaning a greater risk of supply chain disruptions. Battery companies need to work to make sure their downstream access to materials is secure.

It is crucial to understand the balance between the inherent interdependence of the battery value chain and the specific individual demands each element – from miners to final product manufacturers – faces. Better communication across the supply chain can optimize individual operations and improve efficiency, ensuring that the production of new batteries can keep pace with market demands.

We expect to see double-digit growth for battery raw materials over the next decade. And our latest research suggests they could face a supply crunch by the mid-2020s, increasing the pressure on the battery raw materials supply chain.

Gavin Montgomery
Research Director for Battery Raw Materials | Wood Mackenzie

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables businesses to visualize and optimize their mining, battery and product engineering, and manufacturing facilities and processes. Tools such as manufacture planning, production planning, and predictive maintenance, allow factories to use real-time data to not only improve operations but identify potential issues that might arise when scaling up new technology. Companies can also get greater visibility of their entire supply chain, and plan and optimize more effectively.

The platform also allows cell manufacturers to design new formulations virtually, and then collaborate with other parts of the value chain to find clear ways to implement those designs. Businesses can find the balance between formulating the best batteries possible with the need to make it industrially viable, helping get new products to market at speed.