China Builds Batteries of the Future

Tesla
A Tesla electric car charging. (Photo: Reuters)

China owns the main components of a Li-ion battery which is expected to be the battery of the future. China manufactures 65.7 percent of anodes, 64.3 percent of the electrolytes, 44.8 percent of the separators, and 39 percent of the cathodes which are essential parts of the battery.

Tesla is one of the biggest names in electric vehicle manufacturing. It is also one of the most criticized companies. Some of its critics place a bet amounting to $10 billion that the company will fail. Some are very observant of the operations of the company.

Some, however, believes that putting down Tesla might risk the United States' only hope of building supply chains for a technology that is expected to reshape the future economy, the Lithium-ion battery. The battery was first commercialized by Sony in the 1990s. It is featured to have high density long recharging cycles, lightweight structure, and relative safety which makes it ideal as a power source for many gadgets including laptops, smartphones, and electric vehicles.

The Li-ion battery is projected as an integral factor to the global economy as the potential of electric vehicles grows. The electric vehicles are expected to transform global transportation. Electric vehicles still cost more than normal fuelled cars because of the costs of Li-ion batteries. The batteries contribute a lot to the total cost of the cars. Tesla's Model 3 cars run on batteries that cost $35, 000. The commercialization of electric vehicles depends on the cost of the batteries.

It is, however, projected that the costs of the batteries will fall over the next decades as it provides less than $100 per kilowatt hour from the current $176 per kilowatt hour. Analysts believe that the batteries will propel a transition away from oil and into a more sustainable energy future. It is projected that the global electric vehicle stock will increase to 228 million by 2030 from 3.1 million in 2017. The demand is expected to increase by 6,700 percent for Li-ion batteries to power the vehicles. It will also create a market with an expected value of $100 billion by 2025.

MacroPolo, the Paulson Institute's think tank, said that, in 2018, the Li-ion battery production capacity of the United States, attributable almost exclusively to the Gigafactory, accounted for less than 10 percent of the global market, with China claiming 61 percent of global capacity while the rest of Asia, mainly South Korea and Japan, added another 21 percent.

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