Let me begin by saying that without Li-Ion, the world will be less connected and less mobile.

Li-ion is the most prominent battery powering EVs, mobile phones, laptops, and other widely used consumer gadgets. This chemistry has almost become a monopoly in powering these devices.

Despite few challenges, a replacement for this battery is not possible for the next 3 years.

Li-Ion Not Mature but Continues to Find New Applications

A $50 Billion market globally (2017-2020) that has been growing rapidly over the last decade is expected to continue to grow over the next decade too. The key reasons for this sustained growth being – reduced battery costs (cost has dropped 60% in the past 2 years) and absence of any competitive technology that is ready for significant commercialisation in the near term.

Automotive: This sector is seen as a top growth area for Li-Ion application with unit shipment crossing over 2 million globally in 2020.

Consumer Electronics: Fast charge and long equipment life is what is driving applications in consumer electronics. As the number of devices grow to breach the 2 billion mark by 2020, LI-Ion will see exponential growth in parallel with its demand in the sector to cross 60,000 MWh.

Telecom: To ensure continued data transfer, the telecommunication sector is utilising lithium batteries as high-quality power sources, instantaneous power backup systems, and stabilisers.

Healthcare: Thin film, solid-state, and printed lithium batteries are expected to gain huge market share in 2020 because of their lightweight and flexible properties.

Asia is the Global Leader, Tops US and EU

While the demand in the US for Li-ion is significant and growing, it is not the top producer of these batteries in the world. North America is largely seen as an incubation ground for start ups in this space. Many active VCs are supporting these startups in the US that may have been spin offs from the Universities and local research institutes.

Back home in Asia, the demand for these batteries is fuelled mainly by automotive, consumer electronics and manufacturing equipment sectors with Japan, S Korea and China emerging as the top manufacturers for Lithium-Ion batteries.

In terms of research activity and patents, Asia still tops the world with close to 65% of the global patents filed from Asian companies and research institutes in this space. Within Asia, China has filed the maximum patents at 47%, highest globally with the second highest at 16% by the US.

Final Words

Energy has become a key ingredient in all sectors of modern economies. Growing economies, higher living standards, and digitalisation have made the energy sector even more vital. Meeting the growing demand for energy in a sustainable manner is a crucial challenge for everyone.

A truly game changing innovation – impact of Lithium batteries can be seen in every aspect of human life and will continue to do so in the near future.

Ravi Krishnaswamy is an expert on energy and environment with Frost & Sullivan. Ravi is based out of Singapore and can be reached at kravi@frost.com