Lithium-ion battery market to power ahead

Growing demand from the electric and hybrid automobile market will mean that the market for lithium-ion rechargeable battery technology  will grow by 350% from 2010 to 2020, according to an IHS iSuppli Rechargeable Batteries Special Report

The market analyst predicts that global lithium-ion battery revenue will expand to $53.7bn in 2020, up from $11.8bn in 2010.

Revenue will rise to $31.4bn in 2015, allowing lithium-ion to surpass the current dominant rechargeable battery technology, lead acid, said iSuppli.

It is usage in cars which will fuel the bulk of sales growth.

“Lithium-ion at present is much more expensive than alternative technologies, costing two to three times as much as sodium-sulphur, lead-acid and nickel-metal-hydride rechargeable batteries,” said Satoru Oyama, principal analyst of Japan electronics research for IHS.

“However, lithium-ion pricing will decline much more rapidly than the other technologies, coming close to cost parity in 2015, and then becoming the least expensive type of rechargeable battery in 2020,” said Oyama.

According to iSuppli, the dominant battery technology used in hybrid cars now is nickel-metal-hydride. More than one million hybrids with nickel-metal-hydride batteries were shipped in 2010, led by the Toyota Prius.

However, shipments of nickel-metal-hydride batteries to the hybrid market will not grow in the future as the use of lithium-ion begins to take off.

“One concern regarding the use of first-generation lithium-ion batteries in cars is safety. There can be a risk of fire using existing lithium-ion battery materials due to the high temperatures involved,” said iSuppli.

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