Batteries Take Center Stage
29 January, 2019
It is clear the batteries are gaining momentum as he next core technology, along semiconductors. Now it is the time to reshape the technology and to achieve the level of innovation we see in the semiconductor industry
Battery market is shifting and is beginning to draw the attention of the big technology companies around the world. Traditionally, the major applications of batteries were in portable electronic equipment and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). But new demands stir this relatively sleepy market and bring in new players. Growing demand for electric and hybrid electric vehicles, new demands for energy storage in wind farms and solar farms and emerging markets such as electric aircraft, are creating a tremendous growth opportunity for the battery industry. As a result, investments are soaring.
Earlier this month Toyota Motor Corp and Panasonic Corp revealed a plan to launch a joint venture next year to make electric vehicle (EV) batteries. The new company will employ a total of 3,500 employees and will produce lithium-ion batteries to be sold to various automakers. Yesterday, Siemens opened a robotic battery module factory in Trondheim, Norway, for marine transportation application. “We expect this market to grow significantly in the future,” said Bjørn Einar Brath, Head of Offshore Solutions at Siemens. The fully automated factory comprises a robotized and digitized production line with eight robotic stations with a capacity of up to 300 megawatt hours (MWh) per year.
Daimler, the producer of Mercedes-Benz Cars, is investing more than one billion euros in a global battery production network. At the moment the battery production network consists of eight factories at six sites on three continents. Last week the company announced that it will build the ninth battery factory at the polish site in Jawor, approximately 100 km away from the German border. “We will electrify the complete portfolio until 2022, and produce batteries on our own,” Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz
Cars, Production and Supply Chain.
Even unlikely partners such as Samsung and Harley Davidson partnering to face the new era: Samsung SDI, the battery manufacturing subsidiary of Samsung, has signed a deal to provide battery-pack for Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle “LiveWire”, unveiled during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 in Las Vegas. The electric motorcycle runs on a battery pack, comprised of lithium-ion cells made by Samsung SDI and can go up to 110 miles on a single charge.
Meanwhile, Volvo is investing in wireless electric charging technology from the Philadelphia-based Momentum Dynamics, Volkswagen Group has invested USD 10 million in the Colorado startup, Forge Nano to support industrial trials of a material coating technology that could improve performance of battery materials, and the Swiss based Blackstone Resources AG is invasting 200 million euro setting up a new subsidiary in Germany, Blackstone Research GmbH, to produce 100 million battery cells per annum – the equivalent of 25,000-100,000 electric-vehicle batteries.
And this in Europe alone, without mentioning the US and China, currently the largest producer of batteries. It is clear the batteries are gaining momentum as he next core technology, along semiconductors. Now it is the time to reshape the technology and to achieve the level of innovation we see in the semiconductor industry.