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In-depth analysis of the competitive pattern of China's lithium battery segment in 2022


In-depth analysis of the competitive pattern of China's lithium battery segment in 2022

Lithium battery is a battery with lithium metal or lithium alloy as cathode material and non-aqueous electrolyte solution. Lithium batteries are different from lithium-ion batteries in that the former is a primary battery and the latter is a rechargeable battery. Lithium-ion batteries work by moving lithium ions back and forth between the positive and negative terminals. When the battery is charged, the electrical potential applied to the poles forces compounds at the positive end to release lithium ions, which travel across the membrane to the carbon at the negative end, where the molecules are arranged in a lamellar structure. When it discharges, lithium ions break out of the carbon in the lamellae and recombine with compounds in the positive electrode. The movement of lithium ions generates an electric current.

The upstream of the lithium battery industry chain can be roughly divided into four parts: positive material, negative material, electrolyte and diaphragm. The cathode material is the core component of lithium battery, and also the key component that determines the performance and manufacturing cost of lithium battery. The midstream is for equipment manufacturers and battery manufacturers represented by Ningde Times, while the downstream is mainly used in consumer electronics, new energy vehicles and energy storage.

Let's take a look at the upstream mineral raw materials of lithium batteries, mainly including lithium, cobalt, nickel and other resources.

1. Lithium ore

Lithium resources mainly exist in the form of spodumene, salt lake brine and lithopmica. Lithium concentrate contains the highest amount of lithium, about 6.3%-7.5%, followed by lithopmica, with a content between 1.2%-1.59%. The salt lake content is only 0.07%-0.14%.

The global lithium resource reserves are rich, and the reserve distribution and supply concentration are high. Mainly concentrated in the Lithium triangle area, Bolivia accounted for 23.6%; Chile's 21.3 percent; Argentina's 11%; Followed by the United States, Australia, China and other countries.

However, extraction supply is concentrated in Australia, which accounted for 55% of the global market in 2021, followed by Chile at 26% and China at 14%.

Our lithium resource reserves are rich, both ore lithium and salt lake lithium two types, but lithium raw material external dependency still up to 65%. China's lithium ore mainly concentrated in Sichuan, Jiangxi, Qinghai, Tibet, four areas of lithium resource reserves accounted for approximately 96% of the total reserves.

There are six major deposits in Sichuan, which are controlled by companies such as Tianqi Lithium, Rongjie, Shengxin Lithium Energy, Ya Hua Group and Chuaneng Power. Jiangxi is the largest area of lithium mica in Asia, there are four main deposits, owned by Jiangte Electric Machinery, Yongxing Materials and so on. Qinghai PROVINCE has the largest salt lake reserves in China, and there are five major salt lakes, among which Qarhan Salt Lake is the largest salt lake in China, which is controlled by Salt Lake Stock and Keda Manufacturing respectively. Tibet has three major salt lakes, which are owned by Xizang Chengtou, Tianqi Lithium and Xizang Mining.

From the perspective of the competition pattern of lithium resources in 2021, Ganfeng Lithium and Tianqi Lithium belong to the first echelon, the second echelon includes Yanhu Stock and Keda Manufacturing, and other listed enterprises include Zangge Holding, Xizang Chengtou, Tianhua Jingchao, Rongjie Stock, etc.

Lithium resources are refined through various processes to produce lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide as cathode materials of lithium batteries. Spodumene can both prepare lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate, but the process route is different, the equipment can not be shared, and the cost is not too much difference; However, the cost of preparing lithium hydroxide from salt lake brine is much higher than that of lithium carbonate, so most of the products of lithium enterprises in Salt lake are lithium carbonate. From the perspective of competition pattern, Ganfeng lithium is the absolute leader of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide in the world at present. With a 28 percent market share, Abbott overtook the United States to become the world's largest. In addition, domestic Tianyi Lithium, Ya Hua Group and Tianqi Lithium are on the list.

2. Cobalt resources

Cobalt resources are mainly distributed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Africa, which accounted for more than 70% of global cobalt production in 2021. In China, 84 percent of the cobalt material is imported, and only 2 percent is produced by itself. In China's cobalt consumption structure, battery consumption accounted for a relatively high proportion, reaching 84% in 2021. Due to the rapid development of the global power battery market in 2021, the proportion of cobalt used in power batteries increased rapidly.

In 2016 and 2020, Luoyang Molybdenum acquired two Congolese freeport companies in Congo to rank first in the country in terms of equity cobalt metal reserves. However, in terms of cobalt production, Huayou cobalt industry is still the absolute leader, and other players have Hanrui cobalt industry.

3. Nickel mining

The source of nickel supply can be divided into nickel sulfide ore and laterite nickel ore according to ore type. Nickel sulfide ore is mainly distributed in Canada, Russia, Australia and other countries, and laterite nickel ore is mainly distributed in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brazil and other countries. The current and future increase in nickel supply will come from laterite nickel deposits, due to the aging of nickel sulfide deposits and the depletion of accessible resources.

Nickel resources are abundant in the world and unevenly distributed. Indonesia, Australia and Russia all have rich nickel resources. But nickel production is concentrated, with Southeast Asia accounting for 55% of global nickel production in 2021. Total global nickel production in 2021 was 2.7 million tonnes, with Indonesia and the Philippines producing the most, accounting for 37% and 14% of global nickel production, respectively. In terms of producers, the world's top five nickel producers are Russia's Norilsk, Brazil's Vale, China's Jinchuan, Glencore and BHP Billiton, accounting for about 35.4% of global nickel production in 2020.

The downstream of nickel is mainly used in stainless steel, battery, electroplating, alloy and other fields, among which stainless steel is the largest application field, accounting for 70%. Because of its large nickel consumption base, it will still be an important driving force to drive the growth of nickel demand in the future. Benefiting from the explosive growth in the production and sales of new energy vehicles, the demand for nickel used in batteries has the fastest growth in the downstream demand of nickel, and its proportion in the total demand is expected to continue to increase.

First, upstream: materials

1. Positive electrode material

The cathode material of lithium battery is the decisive factor of the electrochemical performance of lithium battery, which plays a leading role in the energy density and safety performance of the battery, and the cost of the cathode material is also high, which is 30%-40%. Lithium batteries are divided into lithium cobalt acid, lithium manganese acid, lithium iron phosphate, ternary materials and other technical routes according to the cathode material system.

Lithium cobalate has high cost and short life, and is mainly used in 3C products. Lithium manganate has low energy density, short life and low cost, and is mainly used in special purpose vehicles. Lithium iron phosphate has long life, good safety and low cost, which is mainly used in commercial vehicles. Ternary materials, especially NCM, have high energy density, good cycle performance and long life, and are mainly used in passenger cars. At present, ternary lithium battery and lithium iron phosphate battery are the mainstream line of the industry. Lithium iron phosphate will be the fastest growing cathode material in the next five years, driven by the growth of electric vehicles and energy storage markets.

From the perspective of competition pattern, in recent years, the market concentration of lithium cobalt acid has been increasing, and the trend of head concentration has gradually emerged. In the first half of 2021, Xiazeng New Energy, Shanshan Energy, Mongooley New Materials, Bamo Technology and Grem occupied the top five lithium cobalt acid market shares, with market shares of 42%, 14%, 10%, 9% and 6% respectively, accounting for up to 82% in total. The high concentration of lithium cobaltate is closely related to the significant stratification of high and low-end products, the increase of barriers for high-end products, and the maturity of the overall market. In the future, high-voltage lithium cobaltate and other products may promote the further increase of product barriers.

According to the statistics of CICC, in the first half of 2021, the market concentration of ternary materials in China is relatively low. Rongbai Technology ranks the first with a market share of 11%, followed by Bamo Technology, Dunsheng Technology, and Changyuan Lithium, with a market share of 10%. The gap between manufacturers is relatively small, and the industry pattern is scattered.

The concentration of lithium iron phosphate cathode materials is high, and Hunan Yueng and Dongfang Nano cathode materials have the highest concentration. Hunan Yuneng city accounted for 22% of the total, in a leading position. The second is the German Nano, with 20 percent.

2. Anode material

Anode material is an important part of lithium ion battery. It mainly affects the capacity, first efficiency and cycle performance of lithium batteries. The anode material is made of anode active material, binder and additive mixed into paste evenly spread on both sides of the copper foil, and formed by drying and rolling. The proportion of anode material in the cost of power battery is about 5%~15%.

At present, the anode materials of lithium batteries are mainly artificial graphite and natural graphite. The development trend is to doping silicon into graphite anode to form silicon based anode with higher energy density. At this stage, artificial graphite is the mainstream route of the negative electrode. Silicon-based materials have great application potential and broad market space in the future.

In 2021, the shipments of lithium anode market in China reached 720,000 tons, up 97% year-on-year. Due to the consistency and cycling performance of artificial graphite is better than natural graphite, which is more suitable for power and energy storage batteries, the market share of artificial graphite production continues to increase to 84%, while the market share of natural graphite drops to 14%.

The market concentration of negative cathode materials is high and the industry competition pattern is relatively good, CR3 reaches 56%. Among them, Beitri, Putai Lai (Jiangxi Zichen) and Shanshan shares have been in the top position, accounting for 26%, 15%, 15% respectively, Dongguan Kaijin market share in recent years has increased, accounting for 13%.

3. Electrolyte

Electrolyte is the carrier of ion transmission in the battery, which plays the role of conducting ions between the positive and negative electrodes of lithium battery, and is the guarantee of high voltage and high specific energy of lithium ion battery.

Lithium battery electrolyte is generally made up of high purity organic solvent, lithium electrolyte salt, necessary additives and other raw materials, under certain conditions, according to a certain proportion. According to their different structures, organic solvents can be divided into the main components of lithium hexafluorophosphate, ethylene carbonate, phosphorus pentafluoride and so on.

Data show that in 2021, China's lithium battery electrolyte increased by 271,000 tons from 110,000 tons in 2017. The shipment of lithium battery electrolyte is expected to reach 326,000 tons in 2022.

At present, the degree of concentration of lithium battery electrolyte industry in our country is high, and the top three concentration of industry business scale exceeds 60%. At the same time in recent years our country lithium ion battery electrolyte leading enterprises constantly invested to build factory expansion, industry competition pattern is stable, concentration is further improving. Relevant data show that the top three domestic lithium-ion battery electrolyte are Tianci Materials, new Zhou Bang, Guotai Huarong, 2021, the market share of the above three enterprises is 67.1%. Among them, Tianci material market share is the highest, belonging to the industry absolute leader, accounting for 33.1%.

4, the diaphragm

Lithium battery separator is one of the raw materials of lithium battery. Located between the positive and negative electrodes inside the battery, it ensures the passage of lithium ions and hinders the transmission of electrons. It is a thin film with microporous structure and is the key inner component with the most technical barriers in the lithium ion battery industry chain.

Manufacturing process of lithium film is divided into dry method and wet method, when looking from diaphragm product structure, shipments of our country diaphragm market still mainly use the wet method diaphragm. The wet separator has higher performance and thinner thickness, which can improve the energy density of lithium batteries. The core advantages of dry diaphragm are lower cost, lower production line investment, and lower energy consumption per unit, making it more suitable for applications with high cost sensitivity and low energy density requirements, such as the energy storage market.

In terms of wet diaphragm, there is an industry pattern of "one more than many strong". With the large-scale release of 2021 production capacity, Enjie's diaphragm production has exceeded the mark of 3 billion ping, and its leading position in the wet diaphragm market has been further stabilized, with the market share of wet diaphragm exceeding 50%. Star source material and Sinoma technology in the second tier.

In terms of dry diaphragm, the overall show a 'three - pot' market pattern. Zte New Materials in the release of capacity and downstream large customer demand volume, at one stroke became a dry diaphragm leading enterprises. Star source material with 21% of the market share back to the second, other players are Huiqiang new material, material technology and so on.

Diaphragm production process is complex, large investment, and need a long time of research and development and production experience accumulation, is the last of the four major lithium battery materials to achieve domestic replacement materials. In recent years, lithium separator in lithium battery demand growth driven by the shipment of rapid growth. In 2021, China shipped 7.8 billion square meters of lithium diaphragm, a year-on-year growth of more than 100%. The country's lithium battery diaphragm shipments are expected to exceed 15 billion square meters in 2022.

5, copper foil

Lithium copper foil serves as a fluid collector for the negative electrode of lithium ion battery and serves as the carrier of the negative electrode active material. The cost of lithium batteries is not high, about 5-10%, but it has an important impact on the comprehensive performance of batteries. Therefore, lithium copper foil is an important part of lithium battery. According to different thickness, lithium copper foil can be divided into thin copper foil (12-18 microns), ultra-thin copper foil (6-12 microns) and extremely thin copper foil (6 microns and below). Due to the high energy density requirements of new energy vehicles, power batteries tend to use ultra-thin and extremely thin copper foils with thinner thickness.

Benefiting from the rapid development of China's new energy vehicles and lithium battery industry, China lithium copper foil development in the world's leading position, the products cover thin copper foil, ultra-thin copper foil and extremely thin copper foil. At present, China has become the world's largest producer of lithium copper foil, with an average growth rate of 80% in China's lithium battery copper foil industry from 2015 to 2021.

At present, the 6 nanometer lithium battery copper foil market is broad, but the traditional 7-8 nanometer copper foil market is competitive.

In 2020, the top five shipments of lithium battery copper foil in China were Longdian Huaxin, Norod Holdings, Jiayuan Technology, Tongguan copper foil and Jiujiang Defu, Longdian Huaxin temporarily ranked first with 18.4% market share.

Second, midstream: equipment and battery manufacturers.

1, equipment,

Let's first understand the process of battery production. The positive and negative electrode materials are separated and evenly stirred into slurry. After stirring, the positive electrode material is smeared on aluminum foil and the negative electrode material is smeared on copper foil. The positive and negative electrode materials are separated by a diaphragm, and the coated electrode sheet is further compacted to improve the energy density. Then according to different types of slicing, baking, winding, shell, injection of electrolyte, and finally encapsulation test.

The lithium battery equipment used includes vacuum mixer, coater, roller press, winding machine, liquid injection machine, testing machine and so on. Lithium battery equipment is mainly divided into front section, middle section and back section. The first segment of equipment value is the highest, mainly controlled by Japanese and Korean enterprises. Our COUNTRY IN the lithium ELECTRICITY equipment in the back end manufacturing aspect technology lead, already reached international advanced level, price aspect advantage is clear. From the perspective of revenue scale, pilot intelligence is the absolute leader in the equipment field, with the related business revenue of 6.956 billion in 2021. The second is Yinghe Technology, with a related revenue of 4.907 billion yuan, and other enterprises include Keheng Stock, Pultailai, Hangke Technology, and Huazi Technology, etc.

2. Battery manufacturers

Globally, China currently dominates the global lithium-ion manufacturing market, accounting for about 77% of the world's lithium-ion battery production capacity, followed by the United States with only 9%.

About 292.13 GW of power batteries were installed globally in 2021, up 114% year-on-year. Among them, the total installed capacity of the top 15 power enterprises is about 281.58 GW hours, accounting for 96% of the global installed capacity of power batteries.

Among them, the installed capacity of Ningde Times power battery reached the highest of 93.7 gigawatt-hours, with a market share of 32.1%. LGES ranked second with 60.3 gigawatt hours of power battery installed, with a market share of 20.6% and 16.0%, respectively. In addition, the domestic BYD, Zhongchuang Singapore Airlines, Guoxuan High-tech, Vision Power and so on into the top 10.

Third, downstream: application domain

The downstream segment of lithium battery mainly includes power lithium battery, energy storage lithium battery and consumer lithium battery. Among them, the downstream application field of power battery is mainly new energy vehicles, the downstream application field of energy storage battery is mainly electric power system, and the downstream application field of consumer battery is mainly mobile phone and other consumer electronics.

From the perspective of global lithium battery production, power lithium battery occupies the main production share, reaching 70.8%, followed by consumer lithium battery, lithium battery production market share is 22.2%, energy storage battery market share is the smallest, 7%. With the proposal of "carbon peak" strategy in various countries around the world, global enterprises have deployed power battery and energy storage battery production lines. The booming development of new energy vehicles and energy storage market is expected to further promote the market share of power lithium battery and energy storage lithium battery.

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