Are local Li-ion battery manufacturing facilities required? – pv magazine India

As Li-ion battery sales accelerate, governments and larger battery manufacturers are beginning to question whether local manufacturing facilities are desirable or even necessary. Although it seems to go against the trend of technological development over the past decades, there are a number of technical and geopolitical reasons that make it a major problem for all Li-ion battery manufacturing players. Everoze partner Jamie Shaw-Stewart explores some of these questions.

Excerpt from pv magazine 08/2022

The International Energy Agency agrees that lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery supply chains are a significant issue. He recently published a technology report titled Global Supply Chains of EV Batteries, which highlights the need to consider battery supply chains and the need to scale up secure sourcing of all raw materials and components.

Increased globalization has felt inevitable and unstoppable since World War II (with perhaps minor deviations). But even before the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a feeling that this trend was at least slowing down. The effect on technology of any slowdown in globalization seemed minor, but examples such as US and EU national security concerns over Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks, and security considerations EU data on internet data centers are the first signs of a tangible drop in technology supply. chains centered mainly around East Asia.

Unique Transportation Risks

Since Sony produced the first commercial Li-ion battery for its handheld camcorders in 1990, major Li-ion cell manufacturers have been based in Japan or South Korea, and more recently in China and Taiwan. A significant proportion of small portable Li-ion batteries are shipped inside or with the devices they power, and so the relatively small quantities shipped outside the devices meant that transporting these cells was not really a safety consideration – that is, until the numbers start to scale.

This scaling has accelerated with the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market. The token entry into the market of the original Nissan Leaf EV in 2010/2011 created an entirely new class of consumer Li-ion batteries compared to the single or breakout cells used in the laptop, laptop and computer markets. telephones and power tools from the previous decade.

EV batteries require absolute cell uniformity and improved reliability, but most importantly they need higher voltages and capacities. The early leaf battery was around 300 V and had an energy capacity of 24 kWh (vs ~50 Wh for portable electronic batteries). These large batteries alone contain significant potential combustible energy – around 100 times the rated electrical energy storage capacity – meaning that a burning Leaf battery could, in theory, produce 2.4 MWh of energy. thermal.

Electric vehicles have increased the number of Li-ion cells and batteries shipped from East Asia. With high-profile incidents such as the Boeing Dreamliner fires, concerns about the safety of transporting these have increased. In 2014, the UN added a section (number 38.3) of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria (Transport of Dangerous Goods) devoted entirely to lithium batteries. This resulted in used lithium batteries being classified as dangerous goods, necessitating higher export costs which resulted in the creation of a new recycling industry. Although the proportion of new battery costs is much lower, it is not negligible. Major losses during transport, such as a recent cargo ship of luxury vehicles that sank after a fire on board near the Azores in February 2022 – carrying more than 4,000 vehicles with a total value of over $400 million – do will only further increase transport costs.

Region specific

The battery industry is growing globally, but there are region-specific considerations. Climatic differences are probably the most intrinsic, as cold and hot climates have entirely different technical challenges to overcome.

A battery has an optimum operating temperature range of around 20 to 40 C and there are serious performance and safety issues when operating below 0 or above 60 C. This is mainly relevant for the system development, but choosing different electrolyte chemistries, for example, can make Li-ion batteries more resilient to operate at lower temperatures.

In addition, safety and quality standards are emerging. The main focus is on global standards which can reduce variation, but at the system level the implementation is still far from any kind of international standardization. As regions and countries face Li-ion thermal incidents, some are likely to react with different safety regulations, especially regarding home and city batteries where the consequences of thermal outgassing and fires present. a serious risk to human life.

Security of supply is a strategic and practical factor for end users; and for intermediate suppliers, OEMs and developers. This extends to all parts of the supply chain, from raw materials to assembled finished products. The vulnerabilities of relying on just-in-time global supply chains were exposed at the start of Covid-19 and we are still feeling the effects more than two years later. It can be said that the supply problems are likely to worsen in the short and medium term, with significant pressure on deadlines and costs.

cyber security

The war in Ukraine has highlighted national security implications due to multiple crippling attacks on its infrastructure. There have even been suspicious attacks on non-Ukrainian assets such as German wind farms. Asset owners are increasingly concerned about the business implications of cybersecurity and are considering the cybersecurity risks of operating technologies or industrial control systems. These have not received the same attention as information technology cybersecurity, despite their growing importance to the operations of many businesses, including owners of battery energy storage systems.

Industrial espionage, attacks, and potential energy theft due to weaknesses in standard control systems are of growing concern to owners of energy storage assets, as well as other operators of power generation facilities. energy connected to the cloud. Although many attacks simply use assets’ computing power or data channels to initially cause insignificant damage to assets (such as being part of a botnet), this could still pose a significant threat to future operations. One of the main causes of weak cybersecurity is related to the control of material supply.

For example, contractors can insert unobserved data routes to manufacturers, and not for malicious reasons. These risks could cause asset owners or even national governments to better control battery supply chains.

About the Author

Jamie Shaw-Stewart has over 10 years of experience in the energy industry in various disciplines, but has spent the last five years focusing on the battery industry, particularly cell technology. He has experience ranging from cell, BMS and pack manufacturing technologies to battery warranty product design and grid-scale energy storage services. At Everoze, he develops his storage experience at all stages of the project lifecycle, shares his learnings through internal and external trainings, and explores other areas such as flex, hydrogen projects and biodiversity impacts. .

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