Rapid expansion of positive electrode production capacity, lithium manganese iron phosphate and high nickel ternary are the mainstream technology directions in the future

July 17, 2023

The cathode material is the most critical material for lithium batteries. The positive electrode material is the decisive factor for the electrochemical performance of the lithium battery, directly determines the energy density and safety of the battery, and then affects the overall performance of the battery. Cathode materials account for the largest proportion in the cost of lithium battery materials, accounting for 45%, and their cost directly determines the overall cost of the battery. Therefore, cathode materials play a pivotal role in lithium batteries and directly lead lithium batteries. industry development.

The cathode material market has a large room for growth, and the production capacity is expanding rapidly. In 2021, the output value of China's cathode materials will reach 141.91 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 123.1%. In 2022, the production capacity of major manufacturers of lithium iron phosphate cathode materials will reach 1.6265 million tons, and the production capacity of major manufacturers of ternary cathode materials will reach 976,600 tons. According to the production capacity planning of each enterprise, the production capacity of lithium iron phosphate cathode materials will exceed 4.1775 million tons in 2025 tons, and the production capacity of ternary cathode materials will exceed 1.9591 million tons. According to our calculations, the global demand for lithium battery cathode materials (mainly lithium iron phosphate and ternary materials) will be 1.331 million tons, 2.023 million tons, 2.874 million tons, and 4.086 million tons in 2022-2025, with a compound growth rate of 48.9%.

Upstream raw materials restrict the supply of cathode materials in the short term. In the first half of 2022, due to the rapid rise in the prices of upstream raw materials such as cobalt, nickel, and lithium, and the continuous improvement in the sales of downstream new energy vehicles, the tight supply of production capacity in some links has not been effectively alleviated, resulting in a tight supply balance in the market. The mismatch between supply and demand of lithium salt has led to the high price of lithium mines, and it is expected that the price will loosen in 2023. China's lithium and nickel resources are relatively scarce, and its dependence on foreign countries is high, so it needs to import a lot from abroad. At the end of 2020, China's lithium ore reserves accounted for only 6.31% of the world's total, and its nickel reserves accounted for only 4.39% of the world's total.

Lithium manganese iron phosphate and high-nickel ternary are the development directions of cathode materials. With the continuous improvement of downstream performance requirements for lithium batteries, cathode materials will usher in a new round of technical iterations and upgrades. The two technical paths represented by lithium manganese iron phosphate and high-nickel ternary are the most clear. High energy density is the core advantage of lithium manganese iron phosphate compared with lithium iron phosphate. With the completion and commissioning of multiple domestic lithium manganese iron phosphate material projects, it is expected that domestic mass production will be stable by 2023 at the latest. The energy density of high-nickel ternary batteries has reached 300-400Wh/kg. Compared with other cathode materials, the technical barrier is higher, which can better meet the development requirements of lightweight and intelligent new energy vehicles. There are not many companies in China that can really deliver high-nickel ternary materials in batches, and the companies with higher shipments are mainly Rongbai, Bamo, Betray and Bangpu. Rongbai high nickel output accounts for about 70%, and it is in the leading position in the high nickel ternary industry.